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Len Mullenger:

TOVEY Piano Concerto Op 15; MACKENZIE Scottish Concerto Op 55   Steven Osborne; BBC Scottish S O, cond Martyn Brabbins Hyperion CDA67023 [61'40"]

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Tovey's concerto of 1903 was published in Germany by Schott just before the 1914 War broke out, and remains an under-recognised masterpiece. Brahmsian obviously (Tovey was still in his twenties) but full of distinctive, original thought and unpredictable turnings. The weight of argument is on the first movement, a quarter of an hour long, with a long tutti and a double exposition leading to dramatic development. An intimate F# minor adagio and an alla marcia finale with a fugato, 'half marching, half dancing'. Demanding but unshowy, Tovey the intellectual better known to many through his record notes and analyses of classical music. I was greatly taken by a broadcast and hastened to acquire the recording, and have enjoyed rehearing it several times.

Mackenzie's Scottish Concerto (1897) is determinedly Scottish, based on well known tunes, romantic and virtuosic, hiding fewer secrets. It was premiered by Paderewski, taken on by Busoni and revived at Edinburgh 1992 by Steven Osborne to explosive acclamation.

Osborne (b.1971) is one of the brightest lights amongst younger pianists and this is a distinguished debut concerto recording. The coupling of these two works with strong Scottish affiliations is a great success and Martyn Brabbins' accompaniment for Steven Osborne is sensitive and perfectly balanced by Hyperion's engineering at City Hall, Glasgow (Jan.1998). Full notes, as usual in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series, of which this is No 19.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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