Piano Concerto No.1 (1997)
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7233
One has to say, even on one hearing, that this work is possibly the most winningly successful British piano concerto of the last forty years or so… It is, wholly exceptionally, very well written in true virtuoso pianistic style.
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion
The Piano Concerto has been performed in public several times and could have no better advocate on record than Leon McCawley, a prizewinner of various prestigious piano competitions and the soloist in Finzi’s Grand Fantasia and Toccata at the 2009 Proms. The composer acknowledges a debt to the great concertos of the nineteenth century, and writes that ‘the interplay between piano and orchestra conjures up the sound of those large Romantic works, but the musical language nods in the direction of more recent concertos’. He cites Rawsthorne (particularly), Ireland, Bliss, Rubbra and Tippett as ‘[hovering] in the background’; the spirit of Shostakovich is a dominant influence, too, particularly in the finale. The piano is heard at the very outset of the Concerto, introduces the two other movements, and plays almost continuously throughout: a real test of stamina for the soloist, but a piece that would go down a treat at a Promenade Concert, even on a Saturday evening! Roger Wright, please note!
Garry Humphreys, MusicWeb International
[… ] none of this prepares you for the depth and seriousness of the Piano Concerto or Symphony. The Concerto, though influenced by British composers like Rawsthorne and Tippet, sounds closer to Prokofiev and, in the finale, Shostakovitch; you wouldn’t guess it was British. I had heard it in the concert hall, with the same, magnificent soloist [Leon McCawley], and it needed a recording so it can be listened to again and again – as it deserves. It’s a huge work in a late romantic way and a major addition to the concerto repertoire.
Amazon review by ‘Code 17’, December 2009
This disc is simply thrilling! I know Ronald Corp as a conductor but had no idea he had written such wonderful orchestral pieces. And there is such variety here from the lighter Guernsey Postcards, which ought to be regularly played on the radio, to the heavier Piano Concerto (I particularly like the finale)… Highly recommended.
Amazon review by Leslie Grieves, December 2009