Bowen: Piano Works Vol 3 / Joop Celis
Number of Discs:
1 Hours 19 Mins.
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Ballade No. 2.
3 Songs without Words.
No. 1; No. 2.
Short Sonata. 3 Miniatures. 3 Serious Dances.
Joop Celis (pn)
CHANDOS 10506 (79:20)
A magnificent CD, and a special catch to
those of us who are York Bowen fans. I first discovered Bowen’s incredibly rich, imaginative, and vastly underrated sound world a few years back on a
Saint Paul Sunday
radio broadcast. I wonder if Bill McLaughlin is doing new shows now. All I’ve seen and heard the past two years are reruns of earlier broadcasts, a sad state of affairs, as his show has been one of the brightest lights on the radio dial for two decades.
In any event, those who already know Bowen’s music are in for a treat, but so are those who don’t. Considered an avant-garde composer on the cutting edge of musical innovations when in his teens and twenties (roughly 1902–1918), his music fell out of favor as Les Six, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Antheil stormed the musical bastions after World War I. Harmonically, then, you know what to expect of Bowen: music rooted in the Strauss/Debussy/Falla vein, harmonically tonal but always edging towards bitonality and a colorful interplay of rhythms. Moreover, Bowen’s music was always creative; even when writing a “sonata to order” for Fritz Kreisler’s Austrian schmaltz, he could no more compose a piece of junk than could Berlioz or Ravel under similar circumstances. In this piano recital by the wonderfully talented Joop Celis, obscure and formerly unrecorded works are juxtaposed with some of Bowen’s most justly famous pieces, like the Ballade No. 2,
, and the late Toccata. We can hear, for instance, how some of the thematic material of the second op. 81 Prelude was reworked for the op. 87 Ballade, which gives us a small window into Bowen’s creative process.
Bowen’s music deserves much more technical description than I have room for in a review of this type, where performance is meant to be the key indicator of worth. In that case alone, have no fear, as Celis is a wonderfully sensitive pianist who moves to the Zen center of each of these pieces. Perhaps the sameness of mood lends an air of stagnation to the proceedings, but if you listen to the CD in stages rather than all at once, your time will be well rewarded. I personally prefer Stephen Hough’s superb readings of the Ballade and Toccata on Dutton, but these are by no means inferior, only a bit different. Unlike many Chandos CDs, this one is engineered with clean, forward sound and a minimum of reverb.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Toccata for Piano, Op. 155 by York Bowen
Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957; England
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Britain Revealed! July 10, 2013
By bess holloway (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews
"I'm gradually becoming aware of what British composers have contributed to world music. This CD was a complete surprise and great reward, since I hadn't heard a note of it before. You know a fine recording when you repeatedly seek it out from among the many others you own. This is winner! Joop Celis is superb here."