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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67659
Recording details: August 2007
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2008
Total duration: 17 minutes 47 seconds

'The Third Concerto, with its surging climaxes and soaring themes, offers 17 minutes of instant gratification … the writing [Fourth Concerto] veers between magical impressionism and passionate bravura outbursts couched in Straussian orchestral textures. Thrilling stuff. Driver, again, is firmly in the spotlight. This is his first recording for Hyperion. I look forward to many more' (Gramophone)

'Danny Driver's pianism is fully and eagerly up to Bowen's considerable demands' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This disc is the latest and arguably the most impressive so far in the continuing resuscitation of the music of London-born composer-pianist York Bowen (1884–1961). These two concertos sound more Continental than English, with the single-movement Third (1908) betraying the influence of Saint-Saëns and the more substantial Fourth (1937) having a Debussy-meets-Strauss late-Romantic palette. Both, though, have enough scintillating character of their own to reward repeated listening, while Danny Driver's performances are masterly, stylish and full of dazzling pianism' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Absolutely stunning … what a way to be introduced to the music of York Bowen!' (American Record Guide)

'Soloist Danny Driver emerges as the virtuoso hero of the hour' (Classic FM Magazine)

'[Danny Driver's] got the style for Bowen's music, a mix of introspective lyricism and energetic, theatrical extroversion with plenty of color … the BBC Scottish SO plays with its usual unruffled beauty' (Fanfare, USA)

Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor 'Fantasia', Op 23
composer
1907; first performed by Bowen in September 1908; 'Fantasia (3rd Concerto) for piano and orchestra'; dedicated to the Worshipful Company of Musicians; Allegro con spirito – Andante grazioso – Allegro con fuoco

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The manuscript of the Piano Concerto No 3 is inscribed ‘to the Worshipful Company of Musicians,’ and bears the title ‘Fantasia (3rd Concerto) for piano and orchestra’. It is a vigorous one-movement work with three well defined sections of varying tempos in Fantasia style; on the occasion of its premiere at a Promenade concert in September 1908, it was promoted as a ‘new piano concerto in G minor’, much to the irritation of the critics who unanimously claimed it should be termed Fantasia. Many felt it was Bowen’s best composition so far, effective and full of interest, with melodious themes and rhythmic flow. Furthermore, they were united in their view that Bowen’s performance, as soloist, was brilliant and a major contribution to the success of the evening. He performed the work on several other occasions, in Bournemouth in 1909 and 1920, and at a Promenade concert in October 1924, conducted by Sir Henry Wood.

The work opens with a short introductory horn announcement over tremolo strings and piano flourishes, which leads to the Allegro con spirito first theme (briefly heard in the introduction) in piano octaves, before a scherzando-like passage arrives at a swaying Poco meno mosso second theme in D major. The first theme returns and is freely developed with punchy rhythmic exchanges between woodwind and piano, until agitated piano octaves interrupt the orchestral build-up, eventually subsiding into the Andante grazioso middle section. Legatissimo piano arpeggios accompany an expressive string melody, creating a fluid texture as the piano drifts into a Più lento dreamy Impressionistic world. A solo oboe and violin then anticipate the return of the opening theme. There follows a brief Molto maestoso, before a brass fanfare leads us back once more to the first theme, before the final Allegro con fuoco third section further explores thematic material from the Andante grazioso. A brief explosive cadenza and piano pyrotechnics precede a last Maestoso brass fanfare as the work draws triumphantly to an end.

from notes by Glen Ballard © 2008

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