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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67837
Recording details: January 2010
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by John H West
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: September 2011
Total duration: 19 minutes 52 seconds

'Beyond his customary grace and lucid phrasing, Martin Roscoe dispatches the often taxing writing with stylish elan, while the indefatigable Martyn Brabbins once again leads the wonderful (and underrated) BBC Scottish players in three world premiere recordings that sound as if they've been part of the repertoire for years' (Gramophone)

'Martin Roscoe gives splendidly virtuosic and intensely musical accounts of these scores, and he is more than ably partnered by the BBC Scottish Symphony under Martyn Brabbins … here is yet another success in a remarkable series; an excellent CD which is warmly recommended' (International Record Review)

'This is an important release for enthusiasts of British music and for those listeners who specialise in romantic piano concertos. Everything about this CD is exceptional. There is the excellent playing by Martin Roscoe and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins. This is a committed performance of three works that are not really in the public domain. Listeners have nothing to compare these premiere recordings with, but I am convinced that they are definitive realisations of works that have been forgotten for far too long' (MusicWeb International)

Concertstück
composer
1897; published in 1900; composer for Paderewski who gave the first performance at Queen's Hall on 28 June 1900 at a Philharmonic Society concert

Concertstück  [19'52]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Cowen’s youthful Piano Concerto was performed by the seventeen-year-old composer at St James’s Hall in 1869; but, nearly thirty years on, when he came to write his Concertstück for piano and orchestra, that early concerto had long been forgotten, and indeed, along with many of his early works, the music is lost. The Concertstück was written in 1897 for the celebrated Polish pianist Paderewski and was first performed by him at the Philharmonic Society’s concert at Queen’s Hall on 28 June 1900. In his autobiography Cowen wrote how before the performance he ‘went over to Paris for a few days to work up the music with him [Paderewski] and to make sundry revisions and elaborate certain of the passages to suit his immense technique … Not taking into consideration a very early concerto, the Concertstück was the first work [for piano and orchestra] I had written, and its performance at the Philharmonic, through his fine interpretation, proved very brilliant and effective.’ Perhaps remembering Liszt’s Piano Concerto in E flat major, the scoring includes a triangle among the percussion.

The music of this twenty-minute movement plays continuously, but falls into several sections. A clarinet opens proceedings with a lamenting theme punctuated by solemn chords. The scoring of this introduction is delightful, and soon coloured with horn tone. The piano takes up the theme and quickly introduces a falling dotted motif that reappears throughout and returns in triumph at the end. Cowen, no mean pianist himself, constantly leaves his soloist with little accompaniment. The music works up to a climax. Eventually, with a cadenza, the soloist takes us into a twelve-bar linking section, A tempo moderato, which Cowen scores with the light touch for which he was celebrated, the harp prominent and the violins reduced to just four players. The following Molto allegro leads to a contrasted piano idyll—Tempo tranquillo—all rounded by a cadenza and coda in which both themes appear.

Cowen now uses the triangle to colour a L’istesso tempo section (the time signature changes, to 2/4, but the apparent tempo does not). This is in G minor and again is introduced by the solo piano. The music proceeds in high spirits and with much piano display, the strings eventually finding a lyrical version of the falling motif.

The recapitulation starts with the piano repeating the 2/4 theme and there follows a succession of short sections, effectively contrasted variations, notably three delightful episodes in which both piano and orchestra are treated with the greatest delicacy. A gossamer piano cadenza muses on previous material, before the orchestra gradually increases the tempo and takes us to a closing headlong Presto—becoming Prestissimo—and the grand final statement of the theme, with piano chords sailing commandingly above. The final dash to the end contains brilliant passagework which goes on and on as if neither side is willing to give up.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2011

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