This is a well produced
and attractively presented disc, with
a scene of Aldeburgh's beach on the
front cover. The pairing of the works
by Britten and his teacher is interesting
Ireland's concerto is very pleasant,
although perhaps not exceptional and
is less often heard and less frequently
recorded than the better known Britten.
The latter is already
definitively recorded by its dedicatee
Richter on London - a disc lower in
price than this one - and well recorded
by Joanna Macgregor on Naxos at that
label's usual bargain price [review].
The latter review describes the work
in some detail, and I therefore shall
minimise further duplication here.
It is difficult to
see that this current recording would
be an obvious choice although that is
not because it is devoid of merit; and
indeed it has excellent playing and
good recording quality. It should however
appeal to the collector of recordings
of Britten's concerto or to anyone who
finds this pairing of particular interest
and it most inevitably will be to some.
This performance of
this early and relatively routine work
is brisk in pace and sparkling in tone.
It bursts into action with pounding
energy, but then opens up into a good
dynamic range. The soloist is strong
both by name and by nature. His style
is forward and at times attacking but
this is quite well suited to the concerto's
somewhat military tone. Pleasing contrast
is to be found in the slower (andante
lento) third movement before a return
to the opening tempo in the closing
Ireland's work is more
mellow and very English in character.
Its lovely opening is refreshing after
the pounding intensity of the Britten
finale. It is a gentle and lyrical work
in the key of E-flat. The balance of
power between soloist and orchestra
is more equal than in the other work;
its description as a 'concerto for piano
and orchestra' rather than as a 'piano
concerto', reflecting this. It is always
pleasant, though hardly ever exceptional;
its pace quickens only in the third
and final movement allegretto giocoso.
This is a thoughtful and sensitive
performance by both soloist and orchestra
and the recording quality is very good.
Recordings of the Ireland
are fewer - as indeed are performances
- and it is a work I consider deserving
of more attention than it receives.
This is undoubtedly the most recent,
and the most technically advanced recording
of the Ireland - and this is probably
this disc's biggest selling point. However,
there is a 1990 recording by Kathryn
Stott, where it is attractively paired
with works by Bridge (another teacher
of Benjamin Britten) and by Walton.
This is pleasant and cheaper in price,
although a less recent recording. I
like Stott's playing; her style suits