The three world premiere recordings featured here comprise the complete works for piano and orchestra by both composers (an early student concerto by Cowen appears lost).
In his day Cowen was a hugely successful contemporary of Stanford and Parry and it is surprising that his music has not yet been revived on disc. The Concertstück was written in 1897 for Padereswki, who gave the premiere to much acclaim. The work is notable for its orchestral colour and a great understanding of virtuoso piano writing and reveals what a master of his art the composer was.
Sir Arthur Somervell is best known for his songs and he wrote comparatively little orchestral music. The ‘Normandy’ symphonic variations were premiered in 1913 by the great scholar and pianist Donald Francis Tovey who did much to champion them.
The ‘Highland’ concerto is a late work (dating from 1921) which was never published and has consequently been almost forgotten. It was written for, and premiered by, the Scottish pianist Jessie Munro and is an uncomplicated and enjoyable romp based on Scottish-sounding themes which are nevertheless original Somervell. It may not be profound music but once heard, will certainly never be forgotten.
Martin Roscoe and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are on scintillating form throughout. An entertaining addition to the renowned Romantic Piano Concerto catalogue.