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Cat. No. CHAN 10410 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10410 - Bowen: Works for Piano, Volume 2
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Available From: 01 March 2007
York Bowen has been described as ‘the English Rachmaninov’. He was a prodigious pianist whose deep and richly expressive music is known to only a few seekers of elusive musical gems. As a young composer he was highly regarded, by the most admired performers of the day, including Hans Richter, Fritz Kreisler, and Lionel Tertis. Camille Saint-Saëns was an early admirer of Bowen. He described him as ‘the most remarkable of the Young British composers’. As many newspapers of the time testify, his concerts were always a special event. The reason for his subsequent obscurity remains a mystery, for his distinctive music is of the highest quality. Volume one of the series helped to reassess Bowen’s music, and volume two is sure to develop this further. The distinguished Dutch pianist Joop Celis performs regularly as a solo, chamber and concert artist. Following volume one, International Record Review described Celis as a ‘thoroughly sympathetic advocate of Bowen’s work… powerful and poised, nimble and sensitive’.

Bowen composed over 160 works, which show a blend of Romanticism and strong individuality. He studied composition with Frederick Corder, and won many prizes while still a student. Bowen, however, was more responsive to two other national schools: the Russian, and the French. It is this fusion of different styles which makes Bowen’s own very individual sound world so remarkable. On this disc, the range of Bowen’s piano music is amply demonstrated, from the Sonata to the tiny Bagatelles and second Intermezzo. Throughout, we may appreciate his command of the keyboard. The largest work is Sonata in F minor, Op.72 which receives its first recording with this release. The Fifth sonata is a powerful scores, subtly original, reminiscent of Rachmaninov’s Second Sonata. Fantasia in G minor, Opus 132 is brilliantly virtuosic, revealing a master-pianist-composer at the height of his powers. The Bagatelles were one of the last pieces of Bowen’s composition, and make a delightful set of miniatures, playing for less than eight minutes, but possessing that indefinable characteristic of implying more than their individual brevity suggests.

This disc an astounding addition to the piano catalogue, both in terms of performance and repertoire.
Reviews

With attractive liner notes, a generous disc length, and lifelike, forward sound, this comes highly recommended.
Fanfare

Joop Celis’s second volume in his cycle of York Bowen’s piano music is as triumphant as his first… not a single piece on this excellently recorded disc could be in more sensitive hands. Joop Celis confirms his stature at every point, and Vol 3 of his Bowen pilgrimage is hopefully already on the horizon.
Gramophone

Of the nine works here, composed between 1915 and 1956, all except the F minor Sonata and the Nocturne are world premiere recordings. Listening to them on this disc, you might wonder why they have never been recorded before. Celis deserves the highest praise for his powerful advocacy of this passionate and appealing music, heard here in warmly-recorded sound. Highly recommended
Classic FM Magazine

Celis is a dedicated Bowen admirer, and according to the booklet even gives occasional lecture-recitals on the composer: he is clearly entirely at home with Bowen the miniaturist… the sound of the piano is superlative, even and smooth in a natural acoustic.
International Record Review

The appearance of a second volume would seem to indicate that Chandos may be releasing a complete series of York Bowen’s piano music. I hope so, since his music is always imaginative and interesting…. Celis is clearly in his element as the music calls forth a flood of vivid imagery and some heart-on-sleeve lyricism. The notes by Robert Matthew-Walker are exemplary, as is the sound from the Maastricht Conservatory in the Netherlands.
American Record Guide

Dutch pianist Joop Celis displays impeccable technique in Bowen’s demanding scores. He is clearly an excellent musician. Chandos offers clear, vibrant sound. A lot of dedicated work and effort has gone into this recording.
American Record Guide

Celis is the talented Dutch pianist who won glowing reviews for his first disc of York Bowen’s piano music a couple of years ago. Impressively the second volume is, if anything, even better… Celis deserves the highest praise for his powerful advocacy of this passionate and appealing music, heard here in warmly-recorded sound. Highly recommended.
Classic FM Magazine

 

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