Bliss: Piano Concerto, Piano Sonata, Concerto for Two Pianos

Bliss: Piano Concerto, Piano Sonata, Concerto for Two Pianos

by Peter Donohoe
     
 

Like many 20th-century British composers, Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) has always been highly esteemed in his native country, but his music is seldom performed elsewhere. Yet his works sound more international than provincially English -- there's not a hint of pastoral folk song to be heard on this recording, for instance. Composed for the 1939 World's Fair in New… See more details below

Overview

Like many 20th-century British composers, Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) has always been highly esteemed in his native country, but his music is seldom performed elsewhere. Yet his works sound more international than provincially English -- there's not a hint of pastoral folk song to be heard on this recording, for instance. Composed for the 1939 World's Fair in New York, his Piano Concerto is a large-scale work that embraces both the virtuoso fireworks and the melodic abundance of the Romantic era, if not its heart-on-sleeve emotions. The pianist Peter Donohoe exercises his considerable technique here in an exciting performance that reveals the composer's full breadth of invention. Bliss's later Piano Sonata (1952) is a perfect foil for the Concerto; without foregoing Romantic touches, it has a rather more brittle and modern sound and a darker mood overall. (In all these respects, it is similar to Samuel Barber's Piano Sonata [1949].) Donohoe is perhaps even more convincing in this introspective score, but he persuades the listener that both of these works deserve to be better known. Martin Roscoe joins Donohoe for a final composition by Bliss, the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, which underwent several revisions between the 1920s and 1950. This concise concerto clusters an array of ideas into a single movement, but even if it doesn't pack quite the same satisfying punch as a whole, it's no less appealing than the other works featured here -- and the central slow section has a true languorous beauty. All told, this disc is an obvious recommendation for anyone with a penchant for Bliss, but it also provides a thoroughly rewarding first encounter with one of the past century's oft-overlooked musical voices.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Arthur Bliss was one of the generation of English modernists who came of age in the shadow of Elgar and the Great War. In his time, Bliss was the last word in driving rhythms, gleaming colors, and dazzling virtuosity, but his time passed and these days Bliss enjoys a reputation south of Arnold and north of Brian in the Pleiades of English modernists. This brilliant recording should help restore Bliss' reputation. The "Piano Concerto" is a grand work in the best virtuoso tradition, the "Piano Sonata" is a tough and sinewy work, and the "Concerto for Two Pianos" is a lighter and more lyrical work that pianist Peter Donohoe plays with precision and panache. Donohoe is one of the best English pianists of his generation and a compelling advocate of Bliss' music, turning in a bravura "Concerto," a muscular "Sonata," and a captivating two-piano "Concerto" with second pianist Martin Roscoe. David Lloyd-Jones leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in performances that are strong in themselves, yet wholly integrated with the soloist's conception of the works. Naxos' sound is crisp and vivid.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/17/2004
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313214624
catalogNumber:
8557146
Rank:
348949

Tracks

  1. Concerto for piano & orchestra in B flat major, Op. 58, F. 108  - Arthur Bliss  - Peter Donohoe  - David Lloyd-Jones  -  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  2. Sonata for piano, Op. 72, F. 145  - Arthur Bliss  - Peter Donohoe  -  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  3. Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in B flat major, F. 110  - Arthur Bliss  - Peter Donohoe  -  Royal Scottish National Orchestra

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