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Miriam HYDE (1913-2005)
Piano Concerto No.1 in E flat minor (1933) [30:15]
Piano Concerto No.2 in C sharp minor (1935) [24:56]
Village Fair (1943) [11:17] +
Miriam Hyde (piano)
West Australian Symphony Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon
Sydney Symphony Orchestra/Dobbs Franks +
rec. 1975. ADD
ABC CLASSICS ELOQUENCE 465 735-2 [66:52]

This is not a new disc. The performances are a good thirty years old now and have appeared before on ABC Classics in the mid-nineties under a different catalogue number. ABC has also released the slow movement of the C sharp minor in a compilation disc - Eternity. The Timeless Music of Australia’s Composers on ABC Classics 476 160-7. It may be that ABC has given this renewed coverage because of Hyde’s recent death – she died in 2005. The booklet naturally enough still reflects her then still very much living status but it would be good to think that ABC could commission a proper essay on Hyde’s life and career. The present one is perfunctory to the point of irrelevance.
Hyde’s two piano concertos were written in London where the Australian composer was studying at the Royal College of Music. They’re youthful works, written in her early twenties - exciting, romantic, spilling over with Rachmaninovian fervour. She presumably played at the premieres and after, and she plays them on disc forty years after they were written with undiminished passion and enjoyment.
The earlier of the two dates from 1933. Opening with ripe piano athleticism and in frank romantic tradition it has a few will o’the wisp moments along the way. Hyde’s slow movements, perhaps reflecting her keen early twenties, are non-sentimental, somewhat unsettled and actively questing and dynamic. Though the E flat minor is marked Lento it’s not at all becalmed; rather it mines from Rachmaninovian, Tchaikovskian and Lisztian fields.
The second concerto followed two years later. Fluently written and once more attractively orchestrated it would be hard to claim this, or its sister concerto, exhibited any really startling melodic distinction. But it’s very well laid out for both solo instrument and orchestra and does start with some arresting angular brass calls and answeringly lissom string writing. Once more the piano pitches in early, and again the communing spirit is Rachmaninov. The slow movement contrasts tranquilo sections with the Russian composer’s heft. The finale is terpsichorean with a striding figure of delightfully pomposo intent. The piano scampers with heroism and dexterity.
There’s a pendant in the form of the VW inflected 1943 Village Fair, complete with some rustic band evocations. 
The performances naturally carry the authoritative imprimatur of the composer. Sound quality is still highly impressive and the performances are genial and affectionate. Now we need a good set of notes.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Rob Barnett



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