Notes and Editorial Reviews
York Bowen was a splendid composer for the piano (and an excellent concert artist as well). His Third Piano Concerto is a single-movement piece about the same length as Ravel's Left Hand Concerto. The keyboard writing sparkles, and it's full of good tunes as well as virtuoso fireworks. It's impossible not to like it, and this is its second (and better) recording. Danny Driver has more than enough technique and, more importantly, an extra measure of gusto that carries the music forward with total conviction. The same observation applies to the BBC Concert Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins: he's just that much livelier than the competition under the late Vernon Handley.
This performance of the Fourth Concerto is billed as a
recording premiere. Robert Philip, in his notes, wonders why the piece hasn't entered the repertoire, particularly as Sorabji described it as "the greatest piano concerto by an Englishman," or words to that effect. Leaving aside the fact that, whether as a composer or writer, Sorabji seemed incapable of expressing himself in any terms other than hyperbolic nonsense, it's not really surprising that a 42-minute concerto with two slowish opening movements and a finale that ends quietly has yet to catch on. In fact, Bowen's consistently engaging keyboard figuration and brooding lyricism (more than a hint of 1920s "Celtic twilight") never taxes the listener's patience, and that quiet ending makes perfect emotional sense. I suspect that none of this is visible on paper. The music has to be heard, and given Driver's and Brabbins' excellent work, here's your chance. A very enjoyable, well-engineered release.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 4 in A minor, Op. 88 by York Bowen
Danny Driver (Piano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1929; England
Length: 42 Minutes 51 Secs.
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