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Hyperion Records

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The Icknield Way (1912) by Spencer Frederick Gore (1878-1914)
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67827
Recording details: July 2010
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2011
Total duration: 2 minutes 44 seconds

'Here is a disc to warm the hearts and minds of those who treasure romantic nostalgia … Benjamin Dale's hugely ambitious and unwieldy Piano Sonata is assuredly not for lovers of economy … it is doubtful that [the sonata] has ever been played with a more shining commitment than by Danny Driver. His performance ranges from thundering rhetoric to a whispering poetic delicacy … a pianist of such magical warmth and finesse … Hyperion's sound and presentation are as immaculate as ever … this issue is as moving as it is superlative' (Gramophone)

'Danny Driver's stylish and immaculate playing makes an outstanding case for some technically demanding music. One for English music aficionados' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Shades of Liszt and Wagner haunt the Piano Sonata completed in 1905 by the English composer Benjamin Dale, but this is more to do with matters of harmony, texture and the odd reminiscence than with any wholesale aping. Danny Driver’s superb performance shows a confident composer, imaginative in sustaining a span of 45 minutes' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Driver brings a stunning brilliance … with a performance of this calibre, a brilliant recording quality from Hyperion and an unjustly neglected work, I can't but nominate this release in any case' (International Record Review)

'Driver posssesses an unerring sense of direction, while enabling the music to sound almost improvised. The grandeur of the finale is perfeclty conveyed. Competition comes from Paul Jacobs (Continuum) and Mark Bebbington (Somm). Neither version boasts the excellent of Hyperion's recording. Driver is the most exciting of the players, too … a fabulous performance' (International Piano)

'Danny Driver [is] technically superb, he has the gift of innate musicanship that illuminates the music's every twist and turn' (Yorkshire Post)

'Danny Driver rises seemingly effortlessly to the fearsome challenges of the piece and produces a performance highlighting the shape of the work' (Audiophile)

published as a piano solo by Stainer and Bell in 1923; originally composed in Ruhleben internment camp during World War I for violin and piano

Prunella  [2'44]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Prunella belongs in the same category as Frank Bridge’s Rosemary, being a sepia-tinted, wistful idyll whose simple opening bears passing resemblance to that of the once-celebrated Minuet in G (also Dale’s chosen key) by Paderewski. One moment in the initial theme appears also to hint at the second subject in the finale of Paderewski’s A minor Piano Concerto, as do two of the variations in Dale’s Sonata. As a piano solo, Prunella was published by Stainer & Bell in 1923. It had originated as a piece for violin and piano during Dale’s time at the internment camp at Ruhleben, a fact which might invite us to glimpse deeper shadows in its hushed nostalgia.

from notes by Francis Pott © 2011

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