The musical and intellectual exuberance of Tippett’s music is fully demonstrated in his piano works, recorded here in their entirety on a double CD. The sonatas and concertante works recorded here offer a more compact survey of the various stages of his composing career than any other of the traditional genres he favoured: symphony, opera, and string quartet.
Every one of Tippett’s six piano works is substantial, if not in length then in compositional ambition. By temperament he conceived music on a large scale and was more attracted to the sonata than the short genre piece typical of the famous pianist-composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Being only a moderate pianist himself his piano writing speaks of an imagination directed not by virtuosity or routine movements of the fingers or the blandishments of the sustaining pedal but one set free to explore the contrapuntal style and fascination with rhythm it was heir to.
This is full-blooded, dramatic, joyful music. Steven Osborne is a celebrated interpreter of Tippett’s piano music, making the works his own and dealing with their considerable technical difficulties with ease and aplomb. In a recent interview with International Piano magazine, he wrote ‘I can’t think of any late 20th-century music that is more gripping to perform’. He is joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins.