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

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

by Peter DonohoePeter Donohoe


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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.

Product Details

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


  1. Concerto for piano & orchestra in B flat major, Op. 58, F. 108
  2. Sonata for piano, Op. 72, F. 145
  3. Concerto for 2 pianos & orchestra in B flat major, F. 110

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