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Hyperion Records

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Piano (2002) by Glen Preece (b1957)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA68011/2
Recording details: April 2013
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: March 2014
Total duration: 14 minutes 52 seconds

'The First Concerto’s mournful opening before a burst into hyperactive chatter makes an attractive start, its second subject as accessible as you could wish … in the 1971 Concerto for two pianos and strings, where Piers Lane is joined by Howard Shelley, everything is whipped up into an outwardly exhilarating but impersonal blend. The ghosts of Ravel, Prokofiev and Shostakovich hover close to the surface … what is memorable is Lane’s playing. Whether dazzling or reflective, he shows a total empathy for Williamson. He is superbly partnered by Shelley and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Sound and balance are outstanding, and Hyperion’s presentation is both lavish and informative' (Gramophone) » More

'The late Malcolm Williamson may have had his unruly side, but he was vastly and variously gifted; it is high time the best of his teeming output was revalued. Here we have all four of his numbered piano concertos—No 4 is given its first airing on CD—plus the two-piano Concerto in A minor and the Sinfonia Concertante with its piano obbligato, collected together for the first time. Piers Lane is the tireless soloist, crisply percussive or touchingly lyrical as required, and Howard Shelley conducts with efficiency and conviction' (BBC Music Magazine) » More

'Performances are very good indeed … and Piers Lane and Howard Shelley are persuasive advocates for this music (Shelley is also the second pianist in the Concerto for two pianos). Anyone who is interested in Australian music should, of course, acquire this disc, but I sincerely hope that it will also have a much wider impact and help to reinstate Williamson’s work in the concert repertoire' (International Record Review) » More

'Master of the Queen’s Music from 1975 until his death in 2003—a post that becomes free again this month—Australian-born composer Malcolm Williamson left a body of work scarcely performed today … his six freewheeling piano concertos are often reminiscent of Poulenc, sometimes of Bernstein … a box of surprises' (The Independent on Sunday) » More

'Australian-born but UK-domiciled Malcolm Williamson (1931-2003) was once the most commissioned composer of his time … he is little played now and few discs devoted to his music seem readily available either here or down under. This two-disc set from Hyperion makes handsome amends in collating all his piano concertos, composed between 1957 and 1994. The solo parts demand virtuosity and energy in equal measure, and Piers Lane sparkles inexhaustibly … compulsively listenable … an absorbing and highly entertaining experience' (International Piano) » More

'Williamson is a fascinating composer who wrote temperamental music without any hint of academia in its bloodstream. This very special and extremely attractive set will further enhance his standing. Superb music and music-making' (MusicWeb International) » More

'Just what the musical doctor ordered! A very welcome chance to extend our appreciation of a terrific if underrated composer … this is marvellous stuff, music of dazzling invention, disarming wit (and not the sort you tire of), generosity of spirit and a lust for life (although, sadly, Williamson’s last years were wracked with illnesses). Admirers of Bartók’s and Prokofiev’s piano concertos will find much here to enjoy, so too those who relish song, dance, irony and a big heart, and a composer capable of being acerbic and romantic in equal measure. To all concerned with the making of this release, take an award … no, take several' ( » More

'Le Concerto pour deux pianos et cordes (1971), instaure une ambiance davantage tendue et moderniste : rythmes acérés, cordes plus froides, mélodies assez heurtées … étrange Lento semblant venir tout droit des Premiers hommes dans la Lune de H.G. Wells; les harmonies des pianos mêlées aux cordes angéliques dans les aigus rappellent Messiaen … défendu avec conviction et sa technique brillante par Piers Lane' (Diapason, France) » More

Piano Concerto No 4 in D major
1993/4; dedicated to Marguerite Wolff

Allegro  [5'39]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Williamson commenced work on the Piano Concerto No 4 in D major in 1993—more than thirty years after finishing his third solo piano concerto—and it was completed in the following year. The first three solo piano concertos follow a pattern of tonalities separated by descending minor thirds: A, F sharp and E flat (enharmonically D sharp). Had the composer stuck to this pattern for the fourth concerto, it would have been in C (whether major or minor); however, in the event, Williamson cast his Piano Concerto No 4 in D major as a tribute to Dolly Wingate, who died in the late 1980s. Dolly was the sister of the renowned pianist Marguerite Wolff, for whom the concerto was written and to whom it is dedicated. Marguerite died in 2011 without having performed the work.

The first movement, Allegro, is highly rhythmic and again reminiscent of Stravinsky in its percussive chords and dissonant sound world, with accents commonly occurring on unexpected beats in the bar. Such passages are offset by contrasting phrases of unrestrained lyricism. The interval of a fourth, a favourite of Williamson (and particularly appropriate given the concerto’s number), dominates this and the remaining two movements. The central Andante piacevole is notable for its attractive main theme, which is introduced in a brief germinal fragment played by the woodwinds, brass and percussion before it is taken up by the piano and given a full statement—complete with embellishments—to an accompaniment of triplet quavers. The movement gradually increases in intensity, before drawing to a serene close, and is followed by a brief finale, Allegro vivo con fuoco, which returns to the high energy and chromaticism of the opening movement.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

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