Field: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat; Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat

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WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat; Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat
PERFORMER: Benjamin Frith (piano)Northern Sinfonia/David Haslam
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553770
The Irish composer John Field is mainly known for his Nocturnes, a form which he pioneered, but he also completed seven piano concertos, which at times exhibit the same poetic sensibility. Here, the young pianist Benjamin Frith, with nicely judged support from the Northern Sinfonia under David Haslam, is a sympathetic interpreter of Field’s engaging music. The First Concerto is notable for its enjoyable variations on the Scottish air ‘Within a mile of Edinburgh town’, but the Third Concerto is the more accomplished piece. Field dedicated it to his mentor Clementi, with whom he had toured Europe as a young man. The first movement contains some of his most delicate passagework, to which Frith brings an almost filigree-like quality. There is no slow movement; Field usually incorporated one of his Nocturnes, and it is a shame that no such substitution is braved here (on John O’Conor’s exemplary recording for Telarc, an orchestrated version of the B flat Nocturne is used). However, there are compensations in the finale, a rondo in the form of a polonaise, whose tripping main theme Frith invests with wit and warmth. William Humphreys-Jones