IN MEMORIAM ZOLTAN KODÁLY.
Winners of the First International Composers' Competition.
Patric STANDFORD The Prayer
of St Francis Interrupted by the Birds.
Peter KNELL The Sun's Blinking Eye.
Robert GUYLA Piano Concerto.
Sárán (piano), Budapest SO, Hungarian Radio and Television
Chorus, conductors János Kovács and Tamás Vásáry
BR 0156 [DDD] [61' 25"].
ORDERS TO: Kodaly Foundation, CD BR 0156, BUDAPEST,
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
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.
See also review by Rob Barnett and
See article on Patric Standford