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Track(s) taken from CDA67316

Concertino for piano and string orchestra, Op 103


Martin Roscoe (piano), Guildhall Strings, Robert Salter (conductor)
Recording details: July 2001
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2002
Total duration: 13 minutes 18 seconds


'Altogether this is a wholly delectable disc of spirited miniature concertos where the composers are never let down by paucity of invention. Performances are lighthearted and polished, and beautifully recorded. Most rewarding and entertaining' (Gramophone)

'Roscoe and the Guildhall Strings have put together an attractive collection here' (American Record Guide)

'Martin Roscoe's playing is sparklingly sympathetic, as are the accompaniments from the Guildhall Strings. This is music which you are seldom likely to encounter in the concert hall, but is ideally suited to revival on disc' (International Record Review)

'I have to be honest: of all recent CDs from our 'land without music', this has been spinning on my player the most' (The Times)

'Martin Roscoe and the Guildhall Strings approach these light-as-a-feather gems with sincerity and assurance. Their playing is impeccable and agile … those of you who have developed a taste for the ongoing light music series on Hyperion … will find this release a required purchase … this is a truly delightful, genial compilation of attractive and shamefully neglected English early-to-mid-20th-century light music for piano and string orchestra … I enjoyed this album immensely' (Fanfare, USA)

'Bravo to all' (International Piano)

'Martin Roscoe and his colleagues obviously enjoy themselves enormously, and their readings of these attractive works are beautifully recorded … this delightful release is a joy from first to last, and is unreservedly recommended' (MusicWeb International)

'Martin Roscoe … is the sparking soloist in this enchanting disc' (Yorkshire Post)
Written at Windermere in September and October 1942, the Concertino for piano and string orchestra, Op 103, was published in 1944, and its composition predates the death of Gibbs’s son. Played by the popular French actress and pianist Yvonne Arnaud, a British resident during the war, to whom it is dedicated, its elegiac tone in the first two movements proclaims its more serious intent. The first movement carries the weight of the piece, and its sombre tone is belied by the skittish opening piano theme played as a simple octave. The long renewing lyrical string line is given unexpected passion and meaning as the piano responds with a fully harmonised version. The music has three elements: powerful and lyrical romantic music for piano and orchestra; simple reflective interludes; and the carefree opening piano theme which is less and less in evidence, as if symbolising the change from the previous carefree life. But it is the simple reflective interludes that bring a sudden lump to the throat, and it is with one of these that the movement ends in a mood of almost unbearable apprehension. In its quiet country way, this is passionate, and ultimately tormented, music.

The slow movement is little more than a brief lyrical interlude, its elegiac tone heralded by the opening sixteen-bar piano solo, immediately reinforced by the strings. The piano sings out the tune, its interplay with the strings creating a remarkably passionate moment. Gibbs has the ability to create a mood, a world, with the merest whisper of string or piano tone, as at the close of this movement. The mood is still elegiac, as if the composer is looking out at the Lake District countryside already showing signs of the approach of winter, beautiful but quite different to his home in Essex, and sensing (or perhaps dreading) a more imminent personal sorrow.

The finale, a headlong dancing 6/8, is a light-hearted foil to what has gone before. There is certainly no angst in this outgoing music, perhaps intended to indicate that life is very much business as usual and one way or another we will all come through. With its catchy themes Gibbs clearly intends to send the audience away whistling (why don’t people whistle any more?) the tunes.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2002

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