Hyperion Records

Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor 'Fantasia', Op 23
composer
1907; first performed by Bowen in September 1908; 'Fantasia (3rd Concerto) for piano and orchestra'; dedicated to the Worshipful Company of Musicians; Allegro con spirito – Andante grazioso – Allegro con fuoco

Recordings
'Bowen: Piano Concertos' (CDA67659)
Bowen: Piano Concertos
Details
Track 1 on CDA67659 [17'47]

Piano Concerto No 3 in G minor 'Fantasia', Op 23
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The manuscript of the Piano Concerto No 3 is inscribed ‘to the Worshipful Company of Musicians,’ and bears the title ‘Fantasia (3rd Concerto) for piano and orchestra’. It is a vigorous one-movement work with three well defined sections of varying tempos in Fantasia style; on the occasion of its premiere at a Promenade concert in September 1908, it was promoted as a ‘new piano concerto in G minor’, much to the irritation of the critics who unanimously claimed it should be termed Fantasia. Many felt it was Bowen’s best composition so far, effective and full of interest, with melodious themes and rhythmic flow. Furthermore, they were united in their view that Bowen’s performance, as soloist, was brilliant and a major contribution to the success of the evening. He performed the work on several other occasions, in Bournemouth in 1909 and 1920, and at a Promenade concert in October 1924, conducted by Sir Henry Wood.

The work opens with a short introductory horn announcement over tremolo strings and piano flourishes, which leads to the Allegro con spirito first theme (briefly heard in the introduction) in piano octaves, before a scherzando-like passage arrives at a swaying Poco meno mosso second theme in D major. The first theme returns and is freely developed with punchy rhythmic exchanges between woodwind and piano, until agitated piano octaves interrupt the orchestral build-up, eventually subsiding into the Andante grazioso middle section. Legatissimo piano arpeggios accompany an expressive string melody, creating a fluid texture as the piano drifts into a Più lento dreamy Impressionistic world. A solo oboe and violin then anticipate the return of the opening theme. There follows a brief Molto maestoso, before a brass fanfare leads us back once more to the first theme, before the final Allegro con fuoco third section further explores thematic material from the Andante grazioso. A brief explosive cadenza and piano pyrotechnics precede a last Maestoso brass fanfare as the work draws triumphantly to an end.

from notes by Glen Ballard © 2008

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