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Winners of the First International Composers' Competition.

atric STANDFORD The Prayer of St Francis Interrupted by the Birds.
The Sun's Blinking Eye.
Robert GUYLA
 Piano Concerto.

László Sárán (piano), Budapest SO, Hungarian Radio and Television Chorus, conductors János Kovács and Tamás Vásáry (the Standford).
Kodály Foundation BR 0156 [DDD] [61' 25"].
ORDERS TO: Kodaly Foundation, CD BR 0156, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
price $15.00 incl. Postage Further information from:

This live recording was made on 16 December 1997. Third prize went to Robert Guyla's Piano Concerto. It is a very fine piece. For those who like comparisons his concerto stands alongside Prokofiev, Bartók and Shostakovich but it is not spicy or acidic but has a smooth tonal brilliance. It is fundamentally contrapuntal as opposed to being chordal. Often the counterpoint is one note per hand as is often the case in Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No 2.

There is so much to admire in this new concerto ... the clarity of the texture, the energy and exuberance, the welcome obviousness of the thematic texture, the composer's understanding of the piano and the orchestra ... for example the orchestra does not have a 'walk on' part as it does, for example, in the Chopin concertos. Here we have two real allegros and the slow movement has a hint of nostalgia which reminded me of the central movement of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No 2, an absolutely glorious movement if ever there was one. It also reminded me of the slow movement of Samuel Barber's magnificent Piano Concerto.

If Guyla's concerto has a weakness (as some may see it ... although I would not) it is that it may not be strikingly original. But it is so very well written, instantly likeable and durable. The high spirits of the finale are very attractive and the piano is exploited with great virtuosity.

The American composer Peter Knell won second prize with The Sun's Blinking Eye. My only criticism is the off-putting title.

It is predominantly leisurely in pace but is not slow. It has a slightly more advanced idiom than the Guyla. At its most impressive it has that rich dark passion of the middle symphonies of Karl Amadeus Hartmann and the fascinating Chamber Symphonies of Schöenberg.

The work is tonal and should only present problems to the prejudiced. It is often strangely beautiful. I found it rewarding.

The first prize went to Patric Standford and it is obvious why. His piece is by far the most original and compelling on this disc and has the depth that one associates with this very gifted and compassionate composer. Some may find it the most challenging work on the disc but that only serves to indicate its superiority.

A must buy disc.


David Wright



See also review by Rob Barnett and Gary Higginson

See article on Patric Standford


David Wright



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