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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, Scotland
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by David Hinitt & Mike Panayiotis
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 12 minutes 53 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)

Concerto in D
composer
1946; for string orchestra; commissioned in 1946 for the Basler Kammerorchester by Paul Sacher and known as the Basle Concerto

Vivace  [6'08]
Rondo: Allegro  [3'37]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Also known as the ‘Basle Concerto‘, the Concerto in D was commissioned for the Basel Chamber Orchestra (Basler Kammerorchester) in 1946 by Paul Sacher, the conductor of the ensemble. Sacher was not only an advocate of Stravinsky during the composer’s lifetime, but in the 1980s he established the Sacher Stiftung in Basel, where the vast majority of the composer’s archives are now held. This elegant string concerto was written at a time when Stravinsky was acclimatizing to Los Angeles and the dizzyingly popular musical styles to which he was constantly exposed. As a result, the composer dabbled in film music, wrote ballet music for a Broadway revue, and completed a work in the jazz idiom, the ‘Ebony Concerto‘ for Woody Herman, written just before the ‘Basle Concerto‘.

Scored for the full complement of strings, the Concerto in D fully explores the richness of a full-blooded string ensemble in much the same way as his earlier Concerto ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ (1937–8) exploited the opportunities afforded by a chamber orchestra for both strings and winds. The ‘Basle Concerto‘’s string writing runs the gamut of special techniques including cleverly employed spiccato and pizzicato writing often juxtaposed with beautifully lyrical writing assigned to various parts of the orchestra. The Concerto is cast in three movements and displays neoclassical writing at its cleanest—unadorned and alternately gritty and graceful without artifice. The jutting silences and syncopations obvious throughout the first movement, for example, are characteristically Stravinskian in the way they energize the music’s flow. The second and third movements reveal a composer still committed to the ‘tension and release’ formula of tonality but increasingly allowing prolonged dissonances to stand on their own without immediate resolutions. The work was composed entirely in Hollywood shortly before Stravinsky undertook his landmark ballet Orpheus, also notable for its luminous string writing.

from notes by Charles M Joseph © 2013

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