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Hyperion Records

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Sunrise by the Red Trees by Romy Ragan
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67651/2
Recording details: November 2007
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: July 2008
Total duration: 9 minutes 42 seconds

'Bowen's music … is full of surprises and of a harmonic language and idiom peculiarly his own … both CDs are beautifully planned … and the performances could hardly be more glowing. Bowen's writing for both instruments is more than demanding yet nothing detracts from Lawrence Power's and Simon Crawford-Phillips's enviable fluency and achievement. Once again Hyperion hits the jackpot in a much-needed revival and the sound and balance are exemplary' (Gramophone)

'Following his successful recording of Bowen's Concerto, Lawrence Power turns to this repertoire with similar technical ease, and persuasively idiomatic tempo inflections and portamenti' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The music of the hugely prolific York Bowen is enjoying something of a renaissance … his long association with England's great champion of the viola, Lionel Tertis, produced some signficant sonatas, romances and rhapsodies which see the light of day again in this recording. Lawrence Power's gorgeous dark red tone is perfect for this repertoire' (The Observer)

'What a delicious recording … the two sonatas are fully persuasive from their first notes, each blessed with a sixth sense for Bowen's overarching structure. Power pulls new colours from his instrument with irrepressible bravura, while never losing a kindliness for the more intimate moments that … are as stylistically imperative as the grander apotheoses that call to mind Rachmaninov, Chopin or Debussy … the writing is quite masterful in its alchemy of structure and emotion and the performances are exquisitely balanced, refined and mindful of the elegiac character that broadly underpins the work … with music-making of this calibre, who can predict the summit of York Bowen's renewed celebrity? Bravo!' (International Record Review)

'All the pieces show Bowen's love of the instrument's capacity to unfold long-limbed, rhapsodic melodies … Lawrence Power's richly expressive moulding of them is a rare treat in itself' (The Guardian)

'The two viola sonatas of 1905 and 1906 are clearly inspired by the romantic style of Brahms's late sonatas for clarinet and viola. They are worthy successors, at least when played with the sumptuous tone, passionate convinction and supreme technical address that Power lavishes on them here. Even finer are the two single-movement pieces … Crawford-Phillips relishes the bravura of Bowen's writing for the piano in this superbly executed set, unlikely to be equalled very soon' (The Sunday Times)

'Power, the first British winner of the William Primrose International Viola Competition, now returns to this cherishable area of the repertoire with equally stunning results. Accompanied by Crawford-Phillips, Lawrence's fabulous combination of tonal seductiveness and technical wizardry works wonders in the bold expressive outlines of the two sonatas. Yet it is the heart-warming, stand-alone pieces (many recorded here for the first time) … that make this release truly indispensable. Another Hyperion winner' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Violist Lawrence Power and pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips touch the nerve centers of this music and convey its subtle flavors and fragrances. The recording is up to Hyperion’s high standard' (Fanfare, USA)

'The viola … has no better exponent than Lawrence Power … we must be very grateful that his music is now in wide circulation again … a real discovery' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'Lawrence Power, surely one of the finest viola players of today, and Simon Crawford-Phillips play magnificently and as one in this excellent survey of Bowen’s works for viola and piano. Hyperion’s recording, made at Potton Hall, is outstanding, and the set is recommended without reservation' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'Composers whose rich romanticism was out of favour among 20th-century pundits who favoured angular austerity are finally receiving their due. Bowen believed the viola sounded more attractive than the violin and has a persuasive advocate in Power' (Classical Music)

Fantasia for four violas, Op 41 No 1
composer
1907; in E minor; commissioned by Lionel Tertis who first performed it with his pupils (Eric Coates on 2nd) on 3 March 1908

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In promoting the viola, Tertis gave lecture recitals in which he featured his pupils. In addition to commissioning solo works he also favoured ensembles of violas, his most celebrated commission in this respect being the viola sextet Introduction and Andante, Op 5, by Bowen’s friend Benjamin Dale which dates from 1911. By then Tertis had already asked Bowen to write a viola quartet movement, and the Fantasia for four violas Op 41 No 1 was composed in 1907 and first performed by Tertis and his pupils on 3 March 1908 at a musical evening promoted by the Society of British Composers. Perhaps of most significance to us now is the fact that the second viola part in both the Dale and Bowen pieces in those early performances was played by Eric Coates, later, of course, celebrated as a composer of light music. They played the Bowen again at the RAM on 25 May 1908.

Bowen wrote several works called ‘Phantasy’ or ‘Fantasie’, taking his cue from the Phantasy competitions of William Walter Cobbett which started in 1905, and for which Bowen wrote his Phantasy Trio for violin, viola and piano. In the Fantasia for four violas we find a typical arch-structure which subsumes the elements of three or four movements into one. This is remarkable for the range of textures and expressive power that Bowen obtains from his quartet, from the wistful opening to the driving energy of the fast music. But the overall character is elegiac, the mood underlined by the extended half-lit closing section.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2008

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