Concertos

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Austin & Rawsthorne,Ferguson,Finzi
LABELS: Somm
WORKS: Concertos by Ferguson, Finzi, Austin & Rawsthorne
PERFORMER: Mark Bebbington (piano); City of Birmingham SO/Howard Williams
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 241

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Mark Bebbington continues to enhance his already glowing reputation as an interpreter of British music with an intriguing disc of four concertante works. Bebbington is adept at getting to the lyrical heart of a work, and the interpretative gem here is perhaps his intensely sympathetic reading of Gerald Finzi’s short Eclogue for piano and strings.

For connoisseurs of the repertoire, though, the chief musical interest may lie elsewhere. Alan Rawsthorne’s well-known First Piano Concerto is given in its long-neglected original version for piano, strings and percussion: though there are few departures of substance from the familiar version with full orchestra, the 1939 original has a leaner profile appropriate to its time of writing.

An opposite transformation has taken place with the rarest item here, Frederic Austin’s G minor Concertino – a late composition (1944) apparently commissioned by the film director Ernest Irving. This short and breezy work was composed with a large orchestra but is heard here in an arrangement for strings and percussion by David Ellis.

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Hopefully this premiere recording will revive interest in the original form. An excellent interpretation of Howard Ferguson’s 1951 Concerto for piano and strings, rivalling Peter Donohoe’s account on Naxos, rounds off the disc. Calum MacDonald