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Cat. No. CHAN 10376 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10376 - Scott: Piano Concerto/ Symphony No. 4/Early One Morning
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Available From: 01 April 2006
Cyril Scott was an artist of immense standing amongst his contemporaries. Debussy wrote of him, ‘Cyril Scott is one of the rarest artists of the present generation…’ and Elgar acknowledged Scott’s influence in his treatment of harmony. Scott failed to receive attention after the First World War for he did not connect with the musical establishment as it developed. His posthumous lack of popularity is unfathomable as his music has a personality and integrity which demand, nearly half a century on, that we revisit it.

This release places Scott’s early masterpiece, the first Piano Concerto, alongside one of the larger orchestral works composed after the Second World War. Performed here by Howard Shelley, the large scale Piano Concerto was composed immediately before the First World War and premiered by Scott himself, with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of his friend Sir Thomas Beecham. Scott’s static and exotic harmony, and his use of ostinati, repeated motifs, exotic orchestral colours and the bell-like effect of repeated fourths lend the work an oriental sound world. Scott himself said about it: ‘It’s as if Scarlatti had lived in China’. Symphony No. 4 was completed in 1952 but has not been performed until now and with this release receives its world premiere recording. Clearly influenced by Ravel and Debussy, particularly at the climax points, Scott composes melodic lines that are richly chromatic, and his orchestration is colourful and constantly changing. This work is coupled with Early One Morning, a single-movement ‘Poem’ for piano and orchestra.

Howard Shelley is, as usual, an impeccable soloist… this release represents a remarkable discovery in 20th-century British music: excellent recording, too.

Howard Shelley and the BBC Philharmonic span the idiom with panache and sensibility, identifying a composer whose credentials as an individualist in English music are greatly enhanced be this recording.

Scott’s scoring is extravagant but lucid, his harmony sensuous and involving, and his structures are free but controlled… This is a CD of terrific music, its demands comprehensively met by the musicians, and the recording
International Record Review

This second release in Chandos’ Cyril Scott series is entirely up to the technical standards of the first… beautifully recorded and equally eloquent performances by Howard Shelley… Brabbins directs sympathetic and characterful performances, skilfully delineating the strands in Scott’s orchestral web. Well worth any British music-lover’s time.
BBC Music Magazine

The performances are immaculate and the recording admirably clear and tangible, reflecting the music itself: an aural feast.
International Record Review

From what I remember of John Ogdon’s recording, Shelley’s interpretation flows better, but the core of the music, like that of Delius, is the present sensual moment.

Shelley makes rich adventures of Scott’s 1913 rhapsodic Piano Concert. High tension in a burning string unison precedes his majestic first entry. An animato section tempts from him a spirited skip towards a reflective strolling andante. The haunting chord that opens both the first and last movements of the Fourth Symphony lingers long enough to insinuate itself. One senses Brabbins revelling in the gamut – the mesmerising slow movement, the clownish scherzo. Shelley reappears in Early One Morning, a poetic concertino that picks over the folk song with almost psychoanalytical pedantry.
The Times


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