Phillips is known in the field of British light music but rather
like Haydn Wood he had occasional excursions into the concert
hall. Here are two of them.
The Second Piano Concerto
has been broadcast by the BBC in various studio performances;
not that there have been many of these. The First Piano Concerto
is a total unknown.
The two concertos would
not have been out of place in Hyperion's ‘Romantic Piano Concertos’
series. Neither for that matter would Dutton's recordings
of the Bowen piano concertos and as if to prove the point
Hyperion's recordings of the second Bowen and his monumental
third piano concerto will be released later in 2008. Roll
on a project to record the allegedly Rachmaninovian piano
concertos of Roger Sacheverell Coke. There are six to choose
from. At one stage in the 1930s and 1940s they were getting
regional concert exposure and broadcasts. After that someone
needs to look over Gaze Cooper's piano concertos.
As for the present
works for piano and orchestra, Phillips' First Piano Concerto
would sit comfortably alongside the Tchaikovsky First and
Concert Fantasy, the First Rachmaninov and the two
Glazunovs. The outer movements are agreeably rhetorical-heroic
with the central movement being touchingly reflective and
delicately pointed. The finale carries the grand manner high
with a dash of pomp.
The Second Concerto,
from twelve years and a world war later, is more original
and with a slightly more tangy harmonic edge. The music is
still high on rhetoric with good ideas not in short supply.
Some stock romantic gestures will be recognised but there
is plenty to engage the attention and the heart. Phillips'
writing in this work sometimes recalls the Bliss Piano Concerto.
The second movement is more relaxed but still has a lean energetic
charge (2:43 onwards). The finale has a mariner's swagger
and something of Elgar's sweeping nobilmente but with
more of a surrender to sentimentality (1:33) and a redolence
of Harty's Piano Concerto.
Young Idea is a fun piece with a zany music-hall accent.
There are glittering cross-currents from ragtime, West End
shows, Satie and Walton's Façade.
These are the works'
first commercial recordings.
Phillips has already
had two previous Dutton CDs: CDLX7140
including the Sinfonietta and Surrey Suite and
the Empire March and the Phantasy for violin
with all the brio and energy of a live event and brought to
the retailer with breathtaking speed.