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Track(s) taken from CDA68011/2

Piano Concerto No 3 in E flat major

1962; dedicated to John Ogdon who gave the first performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Joseph Post in June 1964

Piers Lane (piano), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: July 2012
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: March 2014
Total duration: 30 minutes 5 seconds

Cover artwork: Piano (2002) by Glen Preece (b1957)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'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)

'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' (Classical Source)» 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

'Die sechs Konzerte werden von Piers Lane mit einem Maximum an Differenzierungsvermögen gespielt, und da auch Howard Shelley aus dem Orchester viele Farben herausholt, findet Malcolm Williamsen mit ihnen engagierte Interpreten, die seine Musik optimal zur Wirkung bringen' (Pizzicato, Luxembourg)» More

'With their virtuoso rhythmic fast movements and beautiful Largos or Andantes Malcolm Williamson’s Piano Concertos are quite enjoyable. The music is well served by the very active Piers Lane and the Tasmanian Symphony under Howard Shelley' (Pizzicato, Luxembourg)

The Piano Concerto No 3 in E flat major was composed just two years after No 2 and also had its premiere in Australia (in June 1964 by John Ogdon, the dedicatee, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Joseph Post). The work was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australasian Performing Right Association and was later made into the ballet Have steps will travel, which was choreographed for the National Ballet of Canada by John Alleyne and first performed in 1988. The third concerto is the largest—and in many respects the most complex—of Williamson’s piano concertos. He chose to write it in four movements in order to avoid scherzo-like figurations in the outer movements and to balance out the substantial slow movement, which he felt would otherwise ‘up-end its neighbours’.

The thematic material of the entire concerto derives from the interval of a perfect fifth and a selection of the intervallic relationships that fall within this interval. This creates a coherent relationship between each of the movements, helping to fuse together materials of widely disparate styles. The opening Toccata, marked Allegro, is so-named because of its motoric rhythms and the varied types of keyboard touch required of the pianist. It is in the traditional bravura style associated with the form and features two clearly contrasted themes that are in themselves related intervallically. The virtuosic second movement is a brilliant scherzo, marked Allegro (Allegretto), that features unconventional time signatures such as 11/16 and 10/16 and shifting divisions of the bar. In contrast, the slow third movement (Molto largo e cantando) does not stray from its basic 3/2 time signature. It is cast as a set of variations on a gentle cantilena theme played at the outset by the piano, with a cadenza inserted before the final variation. The finale (Ben allegro) is again rhythmically elaborate, but is more obviously melodic and extroverted in character than the first movement, as—in Williamson’s words—‘the piano engages a more buoyant orchestra in a combative dance’.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

Le Concerto pour piano nº 3 en mi bémol majeur fut composé juste deux ans après le second et également créé en Australie (en juin 1964 par son dédicataire John Ogdon et l’Orchestre symphonique de Sydney sous la direction de Joseph Post). Commande de l’Australian Broadcasting Commission et de l’Australasian Performing Right Association, cette œuvre fut ensuite transformée en ballet, Have steps will travel, dans une chorégraphie de John Alleyne pour le National Ballet of Canada et exécuté pour la première fois en 1988. Le troisième concerto est le plus long—et à bien des égards le plus complexe—des concertos pour piano de Williamson. Il a choisi de l’écrire en quatre mouvements afin d’éviter les figurations de type scherzo dans les mouvements externes et d’équilibrer le mouvement lent substantiel qui, sinon, «aurait mis ses voisins en porte-à-faux», selon lui.

Le matériel thématique de tout le concerto découle de l’intervalle de quinte juste et d’une sélection de rapports en matière d’intervalles qui surgissent au sein de cet intervalle. Cela crée une relation cohérente entre chacun des mouvements, en aidant à fusionner des matériels de styles très disparates. La Toccata initiale, marquée Allegro, est ainsi nommée en raison de ses rythmes motoriques et des différents types de toucher du clavier dont le pianiste doit faire preuve. Elle est écrite dans le style de bravoure traditionnel lié à cette forme et présente deux thèmes bien contrastés qui sont eux-mêmes liés sur le plan des intervalles. Le deuxième mouvement virtuose est un brillant scherzo, marqué Allegro (Allegretto), qui comporte des chiffrages de mesures peu conventionnels comme 11/16 et 10/16 et des divisions changeantes de la mesure. Par contre, le troisième mouvement lent (Molto largo e cantando) ne s’écarte pas de son chiffrage de base à 3/2. C’est un ensemble de variations sur un doux thème de cantilène joué au début par le piano, avec une cadence insérée avant la variation finale. Le finale (Ben allegro) est une fois encore élaboré sur le plan rythmique, mais il a un caractère plus nettement mélodique et extraverti que le premier mouvement. Selon les propres termes de Williamson, «le piano engage un orchestre plus allègre dans une danse combative».

extrait des notes rédigées par Carolyn Philpott © 2014
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Das Klavierkonzert Nr. 3 in Es-Dur wurde nur zwei Jahre nach dem zweiten Konzert komponiert und ebenfalls in Australien uraufgeführt (im Juni 1964 mit John Ogdon, dem Widmungsträger, und dem Sydney Symphony Orchestra unter der Leitung von Joseph Post). Es war ein Auftragswerk der Australian Broadcasting Commission und der Australasian Performing Right Association und wurde später zu dem Ballett Have steps will travel umgearbeitet, dessen Choreographie für das National Ballet of Canada von John Alleyne stammt und das 1988 uraufgeführt wurde. Das dritte Konzert ist das längste—und in vieler Hinsicht schwierigste—von Williamsons Klavierkonzerten. Er wählte dafür eine viersätzige Form, um scherzoartige Figurationen in den Ecksätzen zu vermeiden und den gehaltvollen langsamen Satz auszubalancieren, der, wie er meinte, andernfalls „seine Nachbarn beeinträchtigen“ könnte.

Das Themenmaterial des gesamten Konzertes leitet sich vom Intervall einer reinen Quinte und mehreren Intervall-Beziehungen ab, die innerhalb dieses Intervalls auftreten. So wird ein Zusammenhang zwischen allen Sätzen erzeugt und die Verschmelzung von Themenmaterial aus ganz verschiedenen Stilen unterstützt. Die Toccata (Allegro) am Beginn hat ihren Namen auf Grund der motorischen Rhythmik und der vielfältigen Anschlagsarten erhalten, über die der Pianist verfügen muß. Sie hat den üblichen, mit dieser Form verbundenen Bravourstil und weist zwei deutlich kontrastierende Themen auf, die selbst durch Intervalle aufeinander bezogen sind. Der virtuose zweite Satz ist ein brillantes Scherzo, Allegro (Allegretto), mit unkonventionellen Taktbezeichnungen wie 11/16 and 10/16 und wechselnden Takteinteilungen. Im Gegensatz dazu weicht der langsame dritte Satz (Molto largo e cantando) nicht von seiner einfachen 3/2-Taktvorzeichnung ab. Er besteht aus einem Zyklus von Variationen über eine sanfte Kantilene, die am Beginn vom Klavier gespielt wird; vor der letzten Variation ist eine Kadenz eingefügt. Der Finalsatz (Ben allegro) ist wieder rhythmisch ausgearbeitet, doch deutlicher melodisch und extrovertierter als der erste Satz, da—wie Williamson es ausdrückt—„das Klavier ein beschwingteres Orchester in einen kampflustigen Tanz einspannt“.

aus dem Begleittext von Carolyn Philpott © 2014
Deutsch: Christiane Frobenius

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