I last reviewed
Phillip Dyson in his role as an exponent of Billy Mayerl. On
that occasion, a live South Bank concert, he also took on Morton
Gould, Zez Confrey and Gershwin, three other specialities of
his, among others. As far as the discography is concerned it’s
very much as a Mayerl man that we know Dyson but of course he
was classically trained, studying with Colin Horsley, and has
retained those classical chops. Devotees of Malcolm Arnold will
know that the late composer was knocked out by Dyson’s playing
of the Fantasy on a Theme of John Field. Dyson has also
recorded the composer’s Stolen Face Ballade film music
for Chandos, at Arnold’s specific request.
This is putatively
at least a “By Request” programme of tried and tested favourites,
ones with which Dyson feels entirely comfortable. His Mozart
is attractive though there are moments of worry. His caesuri
in the first movement sound a touch over done and he’s inclined
to be a rather assertive Mozartian in the Minuets. The finale
is thoroughly masculine, quite quick, though inclined to be
a touch bland when set beside, say, Joyce Hatto.
begins with bold, outsize gestures, public and rhetorical.
Dynamics are pushed to the limit in parts of this performance,
especially when he’s been recorded at so high a level. The pulse
tends to be minutely disrupted in the slow movement – which
he takes at an Arrau not a Kempff tempo - and so the music never
quite ideally unfolds with optimum eloquence.
His Chopin Impromptu
is again caught very close and tightly so that it’s never properly
intimate. He plays with straightforward control, animating things
with a powerful left hand. Maybe the central section is too
drivingly loud and powerful. The Brahms Rhapsody is certainly
the epitome of power but whilst the left hand sculpts plenty
of detail and the lyric sections are engagingly done there are
moments when things are rather static and deliberate; occasionally
power becomes aggression. There are also examples of his sensitive
Debussy playing and a long and involving Liszt – perhaps an
unusual choice in the context of this recital.
As he notes, a strictly
classical recording has been a long time coming, so fans of this
engaging pianist can sample his wares via the Marigold address
above or through Dyson’s own website.