Scott: Piano Music

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Piano Music, Vol. 5: Lotus Land (solo piano and two piano versions); Poems; An English Waltz; British Melodies; Two Pierrot Pieces; Two Etudes, Op. 64; Solitude, Op. 40/1; Danse nègre, Op. 58/5 (solo piano and version for two pianos); Mazurka, Op. 67/1; Water Wagtail, Op. 71/3; Barcarolle; Prelude solennel; Rainbow Trout; First Bagatelle; Caprice Chinois; Valse sentimentale; Arabesque; Tarantula; Impromptu (A Mountain Brook); An English Waltz etc; plus JS Bach: Concerto in C (arr. Scott)
PERFORMER: Leslie De’Ath, Anya Alexeyev (piano)


Leslie De’Ath’s fifth double album of the complete Cyril Scott piano music completes a project heroic in scope and dedication. It has brought us roughly 150 different works, plus the sense that Scott, now finally receiving justice for his considerable importance as a composer for the piano (the label of ‘the English Debussy’ was never remotely accurate), nevertheless wrote far too many pot-boiling miniatures that one would gladly trade in for a few more pieces of sustained hard thinking like the Second Sonata.

This particular volume contains some of his best-known (and strongest) short pieces, such as Lotus Land, Danse nègre (both of these also in their two-piano form), Water-wagtail, the five atmospheric 1912 Poems and the fascinating, unsettling Rainbow Trout. Also unfamiliar rarities such as the uproarious quodlibet that is Britain’s War March (1914); and I particularly liked Miss Remington, a witty 1934 portrait of a girl typist, complete with ubiquitous ‘carriage-return’ glissando.


De’Ath (partnered by Anna Alexeyev in four 4-hand arrangements) must be Scott’s ultimate advocate. His playing, as ever, is always enthusiastic and intelligent, but a certain heaviness of touch often runs counter to the vein of delicate fantasy and pianistic filigree that some pieces demand (compare Scott’s own readings in the historical recordings on Volume One of this series), so that some of his interpretations remain rather earthbound. Calum MacDonald