John Ogdon

Cyril Scott: Piano Concertos 1 & 2; Early One Morning

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In the early years of the twentieth century, composer Cyril Scott was briefly heralded as one of the brightest hopes for English music, but after the First World War, as public tastes shifted, his work fell out of favor with audiences, and it was only toward the end of the twentieth century that a critical reappraisal began. His music, which was admired by Debussy, Elgar, and Strauss, is being played with greater frequency and is finding new listeners. The pieces presented here, his two piano concertos and Early One Morning, a tone poem for piano and orchestra, were recorded in 1975 and 1977 by pianist John Ogdon with Bernard Herrmann conducting the London Philharmonic.

Scott's music is at once intellectually rigorous and sensuously appealing, and it's easy to understand the respect that such eminent composers felt for his work. His first Piano Concerto (1913-1914) shows the influence of the harmonies of Debussy and Ravel, while retaining that indefinable Englishness that also characterized the much of the work of his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. The second Piano Concerto, written in the late '50s, was never performed during the composer's lifetime. While not stylistically too far removed from the first concerto, its tone is less distinctive; it sounds more cosmopolitan and generically neo-romantic. Early One Morning (1931) is a rhapsodic and highly attractive tone poem for piano and orchestra that recalls the world of La Mer. Ogdon performs all the works with obvious affection and with high energy and Herrmann emphasizes the music's broad lyric lines. Lyrita's sound is resonant but clean.

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