Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Black piano (2004) by Lincoln Seligman (b1950)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67751/2
Recording details: August 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2009
Total duration: 13 minutes 18 seconds

'No better example of Hyperion's founding principles could be imagined than this disc of three premiere recordings contributing to the first survey of the complete sonatas by an unjustly neglected composer … Danny Driver is the ideal advocate for this glorious music, playing with razor-sharp articulation and a rich, organ-like sonority … Driver is an artist who is able to transcend the sterile surrounds of the studio and give 'real' performances, an early Award nominee for next year' (Gramophone)

‘Danny Driver plays the canon of six sonatas with a blend of warmth, bravura, expressive sensibility and verve … Driver’s superb, astute performances are convincing testimonies to Bowen assimilating stimuli with a potent imagination of his own’ (The Daily Telegraph)

'Scintillating demands amply accomplished by Driver, whose light filigree passagework is sensationally clear … the Fifth is a veritable tour de force, Bowen at his best … Francis Pott's programme notes are ideal … Driver's virtuosity and technical finesse is remarkable' (International Record Review)

'This fine sonata survey from Danny Driver, whom readers may recall from his oustanding Hyperion coupling of York Bowen's Third and Fourth Piano Concertos … all are demanding, rewarding scores that Driver despatches with captivating virtuosity' (Classic FM Magazine)

'With performances such as these a successful future for Danny Driver seems assured. This young soloist plays with sympathy and dedication, buoyancy and freshness. This is a splendid set from Hyperion that should broaden York Bowen’s appeal still further. Francis Pott has as usual done a fine job with the booklet essay. Beautifully recorded by the Hyperion engineers at the Henry Wood Hall with warmth and considerable clarity' (MusicWeb International)

'All this music here is played quite wonderfully by Danny Driver—with bravura, sensitivity and insightful commitment, a labour of love; with tangible and vivid recorded sound and informative documentation, this release can be heartily recommended' (

Short Sonata in C sharp minor, Op 35 No 1
dedicated 'to my Wife and Son'; first published by Swan & Company in 1922; not to be confused with Bowen's lost Piano Sonata No 4, Op 35 No 3

Andante con moto  [4'55]
Lento espressivo  [4'33]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Mystery surrounds the Piano Sonata No 4, Op 35 No 3, listed in some sources as a publication (undated) by the firm of Joseph Williams but never found. Allegedly subtitled Sonatina, it is distinct from the Short Sonata in C sharp minor Op 35 No 1 (confusingly, a work given no number by Bowen within the sequence of his sonatas). In effect, however, the Short Sonata takes the place of the elusive ‘No 4’.

Neither the Second nor the Third Sonata bears a dedication, but the Short Sonata is inscribed ‘To my Wife and Son’, somewhat poignantly in view of the composer’s later estrangement from his only child, Philip. It was published first by Swan & Company in 1922 and reissued by Weinberger (as were Nos 5 and 6) in 1996.

The spaciously unhurried first movement is predominantly chordal and suggestive of a barcarolle. Reminiscent initially of Delius or Warlock, it adopts a simple ternary form, fluctuating between the tonic and relative major keys and then migrating more widely in the central passage. The recapitulation presents the major key material in D flat major before a concise, subdued ending restores the minor mode. There follows a gentle idyll in A flat major (enharmonically transformed from the dominant key of the preceding movement). Two balancing episodes feature a bell-like upper melody heard above a shimmer of chordal alternation between the hands and a drone bass. As in much of Bowen’s music, the effect is far subtler and more fastidious aurally than it appears in print. The finale is a scurrying jig, unassuming in its cheerful metrical regularity but intermittently challenging to play with the requisite fleetness. The movement is a close generic cousin to A Romp, the finale to Bowen’s Second Suite for piano and for many years (prior to the current wider revival) his best-known inspiration.

from notes by Francis Pott © 2009

   English   Français   Deutsch