There are fine performances out there for every work on this disc devoted exclusively to English modernist composer Alan Rawsthorne. There are the biting premiere recordings of the Symphonic Studies and Overture "Street Corner" by Constant Lambert and the Philharmonic Orchestra from 1946, plus a sprightly "Street Corner" by John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra from 1968. There is the big-hearted premiere recording of the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Moura Lympany from 1956 and the exacting premiere recording of Piano Concerto No. 2 by Clifford Curzon from 1951, plus an outstanding 1956 recording by Denis Matthews and a compelling 1983 John Ogdon. And then there are the exciting 1992 recordings of both concertos by Geoffrey Tozer and the masterful 2001 recordings by Peter Donohoe.
But still, for anyone who already knows the music, another recording will be hard to pass up, particularly one as attractive as this. Pianist Malcolm Binns has plenty of power, more than enough passion, and just enough irony to make his performances of the concertos appealing in their own right, and conductor Nicholas Braithwaite and the London Symphony Orchestra support him from start to finish. John Pritchard and the London Philharmonic Orchestra's Symphonic Studies and Overture might not have quite the snap of Lambert's performance, but Pritchard is technically a better conductor, the LPO is clearly a better orchestra, and the 1977 Lyrita stereo sound is vastly cleaner and warmer than the 1946 premieres. In short, this disc is well worth hearing by fans of English modernism in general and Rawsthorne in particular.