Thursday, February 28, 2008


Here's a review by Scott Cantrell in the Dallas Morning News of the recent 2-dsic Hyperion Tippett set - Piano Concerto; Fantasia on a theme of Handel; Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-4. (Steven Osborne - pn, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, cond. Martyn Brabbins, two CDs)

Cantrell notes: "Along with Vaughan Williams and Britten, Sir Michael Tippett was considered one of the pre-eminent British composers in the middle decades of the 20th century. And he used to have some profile in the U.S., with Houston Grand Opera premiering his opera New Year in 1989 and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra his Fourth Symphony (in 1977) and Byzantium (in 1991). Since his death in 1998, at age 93 (and active to the very end), he seems to have fallen off the American radar. So it's good to have this two-CD set to remind us of some of his most attractive works."

He concludes: "The First Sonata is utterly irresistible, with its cheerful jazzy tunes and shifting rhythms. Why don't pianists play it? Its successors are sterner stuff, but still represent a thoroughly humanist modernism. The first and fourth movements of the Fourth Sonata sound like boogie-woogie gone crazy.

"This is, after all, the music of a man who went to jail for his pacifist convictions, and who during the Depression worked among the unemployed poor in the north of England. He told of seeing children with sores on their legs because they lacked proper food, and how ashamed he felt returning to the comfortable South. He composed for people... Any one of these works would be welcome in a concert hall..." [Pic: Steven Osborne]

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