WORKS: Piano Concerto; Dream Dancing; Reflections on a Theme of William Walton; Party Piece
PERFORMER: Martin Jones (piano); RTÉ National SO/David Angus
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1071
Richard Rodney Bennett is as accomplished and versatile a pianist as he is a composer, and his keyboard expertise shows in his 1968 Piano Concerto.
It’s a fine piece, with an unusual but well-balanced slow-fast-slow-fast design, and a highly effective solo part matched by characteristically lucid orchestral writing. Martin Jones is equal to its technical challenges, and the Irish orchestra with David Angus gives sterling support.
Perhaps in part because of a lack of immediacy in the sound, the performance doesn’t have quite the fierce impact of the 1971 premiere recording by the Concerto’s dedicatee Stephen Kovacevich. But with that absent from the catalogue, it’s good to have this clean, clear account in its stead.
The disc is billed as Bennett’s ‘complete works for piano and orchestra’, but his only other composition in that category is the delightfully relaxed little 1971 Party Piece. The gap’s filled by two mid-’80s works for large chamber ensembles, the beautiful Debussy-inspired Dream Dancing and the cogent Reflections on a Theme of William Walton for strings. Again well played, they enhance the disc’s attractiveness. Anthony Burton