Tovey's concerto of 1903 was published in Germany by Schott just before the
1914 War broke out, and remains an under-recognised masterpiece. Brahmsian
obviously (Tovey was still in his twenties) but full of distinctive, original
thought and unpredictable turnings. The weight of argument is on the first
movement, a quarter of an hour long, with a long tutti and a double
exposition leading to dramatic development. An intimate F# minor
adagio and an alla marcia finale with a fugato, 'half marching,
half dancing'. Demanding but unshowy, Tovey the intellectual better known
to many through his record notes and analyses of classical music. I was greatly
taken by a broadcast and hastened to acquire the recording, and have enjoyed
rehearing it several times.
Mackenzie's Scottish Concerto (1897) is determinedly Scottish, based
on well known tunes, romantic and virtuosic, hiding fewer secrets. It was
premiered by Paderewski, taken on by Busoni and revived at Edinburgh 1992
by Steven Osborne to explosive acclamation.
Osborne (b.1971) is one of the brightest lights amongst younger pianists
and this is a distinguished debut concerto recording. The coupling of these
two works with strong Scottish affiliations is a great success and Martyn
Brabbins' accompaniment for Steven Osborne is sensitive and perfectly balanced
by Hyperion's engineering at City Hall, Glasgow (Jan.1998). Full notes, as
usual in Hyperion's Romantic Piano Concerto series, of which this
is No 19.
Peter Grahame Woolf