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Bowen: Piano Works Vol 3 / Joop Celis

Release Date: 01/27/2009 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10506   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BOWEN Ballade No. 2. 3 Songs without Words. Preludes, op. 81: No. 1; No. 2. Short Sonata. 3 Miniatures. 3 Serious Dances. Toccata, op. 155. 3 Pieces, op. 20 Joop Celis (pn) CHANDOS 10506 (79:20)

A magnificent CD, and a special catch to Read more 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, Short Sonata , 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
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Works on This Recording

Ballade for Piano no 2, Op. 87 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1931; England 
Length: 10 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Songs (3) without words, Op. 94 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 12 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Preludes (3) for Piano, Op. 81: no 2, Andante dolente e rubato by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Preludes (3) for Piano, Op. 81: no 3, Allegretto grazioso by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Short Sonata, Op. 35 no 1 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 14 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Miniatures (3) for Piano, Op. 44 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Serious Dances (3) for Piano, Op. 51 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Toccata for Piano, Op. 155 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Pieces (3) for Piano, Op. 20 by York Bowen
Performer:  Joop Cells (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Length: 18 Minutes 14 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

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." Report Abuse
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