British Piano Concertos: Addison, Bush, Maconchy, Searle, Rubbra, Benjamin

Simon Callaghan / Martyn Brabbins / BBC National Orchestra of Wales

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

British Piano Concertos: Addison, Bush, Maconchy, Searle, Rubbra, Benjamin Review

by James Manheim

Browsers may be surprised to see six works listed on a single CD here, but that is part of the great charm of the album. These are not just British piano concertos but concertos of a specific type, written in the middle 20th century for reduced forces and designed to be performed at special occasions or in student settings. The pieces are all brief, and the composers had to say what they wanted to say concisely. Almost all of these works were forgotten soon after they had served their purposes; all but one here receive their world premieres, and the exception, the Concertino for piano and orchestra of Arthur Benjamin, has just one recording, from 1959. That work has a slow movement labeled Andante poco Lento, con il sentiment ed il tempo d'un Blues; Benjamin didn't understand the blues as well as Ravel did, but it's an entirely novel piece. Most of the music is sprightly neoclassicism and a great deal of fun. The Concertino for piano and string orchestra of Elizabeth Maconchy -- her second from 1949 -- is 12 minutes of perfection, without a wasted note. This type of piano concerto extended across several different styles; the Concerto for piano, percussion, & strings of Humphrey Searle is an early example of British serialism from the 1950s, but it does not break the mood. The concluding A Little Concerto on Themes of Thomas Arne is neoclassicism on a very high level, tuneful and transparent. The performances by Simon Callaghan and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Martyn Brabbins are utterly idiomatic, and the sound from Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff is perfect. A real find that eminently deserves its best-seller status. Who convinced the world that classical music wasn't supposed to be fun?

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Wellington Suite for 2 Horns, Piano, Timpani, Percussion and Strings
1 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 01:48 Amazon
2 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:12 Amazon
3 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 03:09 Amazon
4 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:40 Amazon
5 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 03:29 Amazon
Concertino for Piano and Orchestra
6 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 02:05 Amazon
7 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:33 Amazon
8 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 03:55 Amazon
9 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:12 Amazon
Concertino for Piano and String Orchestra
10 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 03:59 Amazon
11 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 05:00 Amazon
12 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 03:14 Amazon
13 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:11 Amazon
14 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 09:39 Amazon
A Little Concerto on themes of Thomas Arne for pianoforte and strings
15 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 04:37 Amazon
16 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 01:28 Amazon
17 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 02:05 Amazon
18 Martyn Brabbins / Simon Callaghan / BBC National Orchestra of Wales 02:07 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick