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Benjamin Dale: Piano Sonata, Prunella, Night Fancies / Danny Driver

Dale / Bowen / Driver
Release Date: 06/14/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67827   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Benjamin DaleYork Bowen
Performer:  Danny Driver
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DALE Piano Sonata in d. Prunella. Night Fancies. BOWEN Miniature Suite Danny Driver (pn) HYPERION CDA67827 (65:17)

Given that the pianist Danny Driver has to date committed two full releases to the music of York Bowen (1884–1961)—one to the Third and Fourth piano concertos, the other to the complete piano sonatas—it is not surprising to find him recording a disc of the music of the British composer’s Read more contemporary and good friend Benjamin Dale (1885–1943). Though Dale’s output was rather meager, there was an original and creative mind at work behind each of his compositions. The Piano Sonata, for instance, though written over a period of some four years, shows him to not only be a composer of daring structure but a musically engaging one as well. At least one would assume so just by the pianists who took up the work in the earlier part of the last century: Moura Lympany, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Myra Hess, along with Bowen (an excellent pianist himself), who also premiered the work in its numerous compositional stages from 1902 to 1905. Danny Driver proves to be an excellent guide to this music and a worthy addition to the already impressive list of pianists who once counted the work as part of their repertoire. He takes the time to relish in the sometimes bombastic, sometimes lyrical, yet always elegant writing of the composition, paying ever-careful attention to the numerous details—the various articulations from staccato and legato to tenuto and portato throughout the score, along with the frequent indications of subtle tempo changes ranging from rallentando to stringendo that always seem to find their way back to the original tempo. The quiet ending of the massive sonata leads to two shorter works of the composer’s, the simple, lyrical Prunella and the slightly more contemplative and at moments quirky Night Fancies . Driver’s non-fussy way with these works pays huge dividends as the music is allowed to speak for itself. The short work by Bowen, the Miniature Suite , is given as fabulous a reading as the rest, its light and humorous character serving as the perfect foil to the massive and powerful edifice of the sonata. Driver dashes off the numerous glissandos and hand crossings easily, saving some of his most elegant and refined playing for the beautiful little Nocturne middle movement. All in all some excellent playing of some far too little-known works. Driver continues to be a wonderful spokesman for the lesser-known gems of the pianistic world. I for one am looking forward to his next project with great enthusiasm. In other words, along with some very fine sound engineering from Hyperion (as usual), a release worth seeking out as much for the music as for the playing.

FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano in D minor by Benjamin Dale
Performer:  Danny Driver (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1902; England 
Prunella for Piano by Benjamin Dale
Performer:  Danny Driver (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Night fancies by Benjamin Dale
Performer:  Danny Driver (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Miniature Suite by York Bowen
Performer:  Danny Driver (Piano)
Written: 1907 

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