Notes and Editorial Reviews
SOMM Recordings continues its championing of British music with revelatory performances of music for piano and orchestra by Dora Bright and Ruth Gipps.
Separated by six decades – Bright born in 1862, Gipps in 1921 – both women shared a prodigious talent as pianists before turning to composition. Three works – Bright’s A minor Piano Concerto and Variations for Piano and Orchestra and Gipps’ Ambarvalia receive first recordings alongside Gipps’ G minor Piano Concerto.
Admired by Liszt and George Bernard Shaw, Bright’s Piano Concerto (1892) demonstrates, says Robert Matthew-Walker in his illuminating notes, her distinctive “creative mastery and expressive character...clearly that of a composer who knows the solo
instrument intimately; beautifully written, supremely well-laid out for the keyboard”. Her Variations for Piano and Orchestra (1910) “is a remarkably impressive original composition, beautifully written for the solo instrument... skilfully orchestrated, shot through with much brilliant and quietly witty writing, technically fascinating and with unobtrusive master strokes of structural originality”.
A child-prodigy pianist and composer, Ruth Gipps studied oboe with Leon Goossens, piano with Arthur Alexander and composition with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music.When her performing career was thwarted by a hand injury, she went on to compose five symphonies and several concertos, including the Piano Concerto in G minor, which boasts brilliantly virtuosic writing for soloist and orchestra.
Gipps’ Ambarvalia is a rich, short orchestral study of Haydn-Mozart size without timpani. Making her SOMM debut, the young British pianist Samantha Ward is the soloist for Bright’s Piano Concerto and Variations for Piano and Orchestra. Murray McLachlan returns to the label for Gipps’ Piano Concerto. His “adept fingerwork and energetic” contribution to Daydreams featuring the chamber and instrumental music of Arthur Sullivan “does full justice to the scores”, declared MusicWeb International. Also making welcome first appearances on SOMM are the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Charles Peebles.
This is a valuable and rewarding disc. The standards of performance are very high throughout. I don’t think that any of the pieces are ever likely to become staples of the repertoire but their complete neglect is unjustified and they are all well worth hearing. That judgement applies especially to the Ruth Gipps concerto. Ben Connellan’s recordings present the performances in excellent sound and the essay by Robert Matthew-Walker is characteristically informative and readable.
– MusicWeb International Read less
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