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Hyperion Records

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Senecio (1922) by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67870
Recording details: May 2012
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by David Hinitt & Mike Panayiotis
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 9 minutes 18 seconds

'The Concerto for piano and wind … places huge demands on soloist, conductor and also recording engineers, all of whom sail through unscathed by the technical problems and the difficult sonorities' (Gramophone)

'With Steven Osborne as soloist, the concertante works are in exceptionally good hands … after the Capriccio's grandiose opening, Osborne's tight control of the piano's insistent, driving textures provides a firm foundation for the opening movement's unexpected humanity and charm' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This superb disc on which Steven Osborne manifests both his rhythmic élan and his refined sense of tonal shading, underpinning the performances with virile energy … the string-orchestra Concerto in D and two pithy orchestral miniatures complete an outstanding album' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Osborne and Volkov judge them perfectly—keeping the Concerto, as well as the slightly later Capriccio, on a tight rein, and threading a lucid path through the thickets and intricacies of the Movements' (The Guardian)

'A wonderfully ebullient, rhythmically alert performance, and the recorded sound captures the work's utterly individual sonorities very well, with crystal clarity. Volkov's conducting has a drive and energy that matches Osborne's thrilling performance of the solo part … the Capriccio is only rarely heard in the concert hall, but it deserves to be played much more often, and from Osborne it receives the most persuasive advocacy. I don't think I've heard a more immediately engaging recording of the piece … the notes by Charles M Joseph are a mine of information and the recorded sound is excellent. Philippe Entremont and Stravinsky himself are impressive in the Concerto for piano and wind but Osborne and Volkov are lighter on their toes and theirs is a really splendid performance (I can't think of a better one on CD)' (International Record Review)

'This fine Stravinsky series … Steven Osborne plays all with diamantine brilliance' (The Sunday Times)

'The outstanding work here is the Concerto for piano and wind instruments, played by Osborne in a way that finds wit in the rhythmic quirks while lending substance to the music's 18th-century references … alert accompaniments from the BBC SSO under Ilan Volkov' (Financial Times)

Movements
composer
completed in late July 1959; commissioned by Karl Weber for his wife Margrit who gave the first performance in New York Town Hall in January 1960, the composer conducting; originally to be titled Concerto for piano and groups of instruments

Quaver = 110  [2'50]
Crotchet = 52  [1'27]
Quaver = 72  [1'07]
Quaver = 80  [1'59]
Quaver = 104  [1'55]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Completed in late July 1959, Movements marked by far the composer’s most intricate serial work to date—his ‘most advanced music’ as he declared in Memories and Commentaries. Scored for piano and an orchestra that included a harp and celesta, this astringent, compactly structured work assigns the most important role to the solo piano. Initially, in fact, Stravinsky entitled the work Concerto for piano and groups of instruments. But he soon did away with the description since the piano does not serve the same role it occupied in his earlier two works for piano and orchestra. Here the keyboard’s use is more compressed, more of a contributor to the chamber music environment in which it finds itself.

The piano seems to have assumed the role of a solo instrument as a consequence of a commission by Swiss magnate Karl Weber, who wished to have a Stravinsky piano piece for his wife Margrit to perform. Movements was premiered at the Town Hall in New York in January 1960 with Weber at the piano and the seventy-eight year old Stravinsky conducting. Originally there were five short movements (without individual titles and carrying only metronomic indications), including four even briefer intervening sections, marked as ‘interludes’, of only a few bars without piano (although by the time the work was published those headings were dropped). The work outlines a lexicon of serial techniques: rotations, retrograde inversions, hexachordal transpositions and combinatorial segmentations—all within an unmistakably pointillistic orchestral structure. Stravinsky’s close examination of the music of Krenek and the piano pieces of Stockhausen at that time evidently left an imprint. The score of Movements reveals a pianism unlike anything Stravinsky had written before. The piano itself establishes a timbral constancy right in the centre of kaleidoscopically changing patterns of contrasting instrumental colours. Occasionally the piano is heard alone, but even then only briefly. Most often it is found in combinations with one of the orchestral ‘choirs’. Spatially, the pianism is also notably Webernesque in its exploration of the entire register of the keyboard. Compositionally, the work is a testament to Stravinsky’s ongoing vitality at the age of seventy-seven, and his remarkable embrace of the most advanced, contemporary serial techniques.

from notes by Charles M Joseph © 2013

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