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Track(s) taken from CDA68011/2

Sinfonia concertante in F sharp major

1958/62; for piano, three trumpets and string orchestra; dedicated to Dolly Williamson; first performed in Glasgow by Julian Dawson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Norman Del Mar in May 1964

Piers Lane (piano), Yoram Levy (trumpet), Mark Bain (trumpet), Martin Phillipson (trumpet), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Howard Shelley (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: April 2013
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Veronika Vincze
Release date: March 2014
Total duration: 17 minutes 47 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)

Williamson composed the Sinfonia concertante in F sharp major between 1958 and 1962 and originally intended it to be his Symphony No 2 (Laudes); however, the concertante-like nature of the solo piano and trumpet trio pitted against the string orchestra, as well as the comparative brevity of the work, led to a reconsideration of the title. As with the first symphony, each movement of the proposed second originally carried a religious superscription on the manuscript: ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’, ‘Salve Regina’, and ‘Gloria Patri’, respectively. Williamson dedicated the work to his wife, Dolly, and it was premiered in May 1964 in Glasgow by pianist Julian Dawson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Norman Del Mar. One of Williamson’s more ‘serious’ or introspective works, it is characteristic of his compositional language in its employment of serial devices within a tonal framework, as well as in its tight thematic organization and rhythmic vitality.

The sonata-form first movement opens with a chant-like motif which is played by the piano in octaves and supported by sustained chords from the trumpets. This motif, which sounds out the syllabic pattern of the original subtitle ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’, contains the principal material for the entire work. The strings join the texture in the percussive section that follows, which bears a striking similarity to the ‘Danse des adolescentes’ from Stravinsky’s Le sacre du Printemps (1911–13) in its emphatic off-beats and static harmonies. The chant-like theme is inverted to form the quieter second subject and in the recapitulation the thematic material of the exposition appears in reverse order. The slow movement, Andante lento, is in 3/8 throughout and presents its material in one lengthy melodic arc—beginning with muted strings and gradually building to a powerful climax for the full ensemble, before decreasing in volume and intensity to bring the movement to a tranquil conclusion. The finale, marked Presto, is the longest movement and is essentially a rondo, with variations to its recurring material. Like the first movement, it is highly rhythmic and reiterates the tonality of F sharp, as well as making reference to the ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ motif. Following a restless piano cadenza, the work draws to a close with an extended coda, in which the ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ motif again reigns supreme.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

Williamson composa la Sinfonia concertante en fa dièse majeur entre 1958 et 1962. À l’origine, il voulait en faire sa Symphonie nº 2 (Laudes); toutefois, la nature concertante du piano solo et du trio de trompettes opposés à l’orchestre à cordes, ainsi que la brièveté relative de l’œuvre, l’amenèrent à reconsidérer le titre. Comme dans la première symphonie, chaque mouvement de ce qu’il envisageait comme sa seconde symphonie comportait une inscription religieuse sur le manuscrit: «Gloria in excelsis Deo», «Salve Regina» et «Gloria Patri», respectivement. Williamson dédia cette œuvre à sa femme Dolly et elle fut créée en mai 1964 à Glasgow par le pianiste Julian Dawson et le BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra sous la direction de Norman Del Mar. Comptant parmi les œuvres plus «sérieuses» ou introspectives de Williamson, elle est caractéristique de son langage par l’emploi de procédés sériels au sein d’un cadre tonal, ainsi que par l’organisation thématique rigoureuse et la vitalité rythmique.

Le premier mouvement en forme sonate commence par un motif proche de la mélopée joué par le piano en octaves et soutenu par des accords tenus des trompettes. Ce motif, qui suit le schéma syllabique du sous-titre original «Gloria in excelsis Deo», contient le matériel principal de toute l’œuvre. Les cordes adhèrent à la texture dans la section percussive suivante, qui présente une ressemblance frappante avec la «Danse des adolescentes» du Sacre du printemps (1911–13) de Stravinski dans ses anacrouses énergiques et ses harmonies statiques. Le thème proche d’une mélopée est inversé pour former le second sujet plus calme et, à la réexposition, le matériel thématique de l’exposition apparaît en ordre inversé. Le mouvement lent, Andante lento, est à 3/8 d’un bout à l’autre et présente son matériel en un arc mélodique assez long—commençant par les cordes en sourdine et s’élevant peu à peu à un sommet puissant pour tout l’ensemble, avant de réduire le volume et l’intensité pour mener le mouvement à une conclusion tranquille. Le finale, marqué Presto, est le mouvement le plus long et est essentiellement un rondo avec des variations sur son matériel récurrent. Comme le premier mouvement, il est très rythmé et réitère la tonalité de fa dièse majeur; il fait en outre référence au motif du «Gloria in excelsis Deo». Après une cadence agitée du piano, l’œuvre touche à sa fin avec une longue coda, où règne à nouveau le motif du «Gloria in excelsis Deo».

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

Williamson hat die Sinfonia concertante in Fis-Dur zwischen 1958 und 1962 komponiert und zunächst als zweite Sinfonie (Laudes) geplant; das konzertante Spiel des Klaviers und der drei Trompeten rivalisierten mit dem Streichorchester, was ebenso wie die relative Kürze des Werkes zu einem Umdenken über den Titel führte. Wie bei der ersten Sinfonie trug jeder Satz der geplanten zweiten Sinfonie ursprünglich eine religiöse Überschrift im Manuskript: „Gloria in excelsis Deo“, „Salve Regina“ und „Gloria Patri“. Williamson widmete das Werk seiner Frau Dolly; es wurde im Mai 1964 von dem Pianisten Julian Dawson und dem BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra unter Norman Del Mar in Glasgow uraufgeführt. Es ist eines von Williamsons „ernsteren“ oder besinnlicheren Werken, und der Kompositionsstil zeichnet sich durch die Verwendung serieller Mittel innerhalb des tonalen Rahmens sowie durch den dichten thematischen Aufbau und lebhaften Rhythmus aus.

Der erste Satz (in Sonatenform) beginnt mit einem gesangsartigen Motiv, das vom Klavier in Oktaven gespielt und von getragenen Trompetenakkorden unterstützt wird. Dieses Motiv, in dem das Silbenmuster des ursprünglichen Untertitels „Gloria in excelsis Deo“ anklingt, enthält das Hauptmaterial für das ganze Werk. Die Streicher kommen im folgenden perkussiven Abschnitt hinzu, der der „Danse des adolescentes“ in Strawinskys Le sacre du Printemps (1911–13) mit den emphatischen Auftakten und der statischen Harmonik erstaunlich ähnlich ist. Das gesangsartige Thema wird umgekehrt, um das ruhigere zweite Thema zu bilden; in der Reprise erklingt das Themenmaterial der Exposition in umgekehrter Anordnung. Der langsame Satz, Andante lento, steht durchweg im 3/8-Takt und präsentiert sein Material in einem langen Melodiebogen—zuerst mit gedämpften Streichern und dann allmählich zum machtvollen Höhepunkt für das ganze Ensemble anwachsend, bevor Klangvolumen und Intensität abnehmen und der Satz ruhig ausklingt. Der Finalsatz, Presto, ist der längste Satz, im wesentlichen ein Rondo mit Variationen des wiederkehrenden Materials. Wie der erste Satz ist er stark rhythmisch betont, wiederholt die Tonalität von Fis und verweist auf das Motiv von „Gloria in excelsis Deo“. Nach einer rastlosen Klavierkadenz endet das Werk mit einer ausgedehnten Coda, in der wieder das „Gloria in excelsis Deo“-Motiv vorherrscht.

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

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