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GRIEG and DELIUS: Piano Concertos including a Premiere recording – CD of the WEEK

Edvard Grieg  & Frederick Delius: Piano Concertos – CD of the Week, David Mellor, The Mail on Sunday, CD of the Week, John Brunning, Classic FM

Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16: Piano Concerto in B Minor (fragment) (arr. R. Matthew-Walker for piano and orchestra) – Premiere Recording

Delius: Piano Concerto in C Minor (1907 version): 3 Preludes, RT IX / 8: 2 Pieces for Small Orchestra, RT VI / 19; 2 Pieces for Small Orchestra, RT VI / 19: No. 1 – On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (Arr. P. Warlock for Piano 4 Hands) Mark Bebbington (piano), Irene Loh (piano)

Mark Bebbington, piano, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan Latham-Koenig

SOMMCD269 @ £13.00 plus P&P (free with your first order!)

The Mail on Sunday, CD of the Week, 8 April 2018 “World premieres of music by Edvard Grieg are not that common these days, not least because he died in 1907! But here we get two: Grieg’s sketches for his abandoned second piano concerto, one with and the other without Matthew-Walker’s orchestrations, based on Grieg’s own indications in the score. 

What is extra good about this CD is the way the music has been planned.  There’s Grieg’s celebrated A minor concerto of course, receiving an expansive performance from Mark Bebbington …. Even better is Delius’ Grieg inspired Piano Concerto from 1907 which is nothing like as well-known as it is deserved. 

In terms of quality, duration and musicianship this release from a small family firm is an example to the bigshots of how to produce a really compelling album.”

The Times, 8 April 2018 “Grieg’s fingerprints are clearly audible. …This isn’t a novelty that changes world history, but it’s good to have the evidence laid out, and I’d happily hear Bebbington play anything…[the A minor Concerto and the Delius] are both presented with nimble grace, some grandiloquent aplomb, and succulent orchestral playing.”

CD notes….

An evergreen masterpiece, an under-appreciated jewel and a great ‘what might have been’ – pianist Mark Bebbington and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jan Latham Koenig explore the personal and musical connections between Edvard Grieg and Frederick Delius for Somm Recordings.

Heard together on disc for the first time, the Piano Concertos by Grieg and Delius reveal the full extent of the composers’ friendship and mutual admiration. Their music seems to share and exalt in ideals of beauty and tone, scale and sentiment to produce a consummate and complementary coupling.

Composed in 1868, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor has become one of the cornerstones of the repertoire. Its famous opening timpani roll heralds a ravishing display of virtuosity lit up by the melting melody at the heart of an immediately recognisable masterpiece.

Also in a minor key, Delius’s C minor Piano Concerto was inspired by a performance of Grieg’s Concerto in London in 1888. Grieg’s gifting of a copy of the score to Delius spurred him on to write his own Concerto. It was not easily realised, a first draft in 1897 was followed by two further revisions over the next decade before the final version heard here in a rare appearance on disc.

Grieg’s mooted Second Piano Concerto was never completed, but the 150 bars he did sketch hint at what might have been. Robert Matthew-Walker has fashioned the existing material – in various stages of completion and detail – into a coherent single movement to give, for the very first time, the clearest indication of what Grieg had in mind for a work left tantalisingly unfinished. Both this and the solo piano version – also arranged by Robert Matthew-Walker – receive their premiere recordings here.
Completing the disc are Delius’s Three Preludes for solo piano and Peter Warlock’s transcription for piano duet – with Bebbington joined by the young up-and-coming Malaysian pianist Irene Loh – of Delius’s most famous orchestral miniature, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring.


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