SOMM Recordings continues its championing of British music with revelatory performances of music for piano and orchestra by Dora Bright and Ruth Gipps. Separated by six decades – Bright born in 1862, Gipps in 1921 – both women shared a prodigious talent as pianists before turning to composition.
Three works – Bright’s A minor Piano Concerto and Variations for Piano and Orchestra and Gipps’ Ambarvalia receive first recordings alongside Gipps’ G minor Piano Concerto.
Admired by Liszt and George Bernard Shaw, Bright’s Piano Concerto (1892) demonstrates, says Robert Matthew-Walker in his illuminating notes, her distinctive “creative mastery and expressive character…clearly that of a composer who knows the solo instrument intimately; beautifully written, supremely well-laid out for the keyboard”.
Her Variations for Piano and Orchestra (1910) “is a remarkably impressive original composition, beautifully written for the solo instrument… skilfully orchestrated, shot through with much brilliant and quietly witty writing, technically fascinating and with unobtrusive master strokes of structural originality”.
A child-prodigy pianist and composer, Ruth Gipps studied oboe with Leon Goossens, piano with Arthur Alexander and composition with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music. When her performing career was thwarted by a hand injury, she went on to compose five symphonies and several concertos, including the Piano Concerto in G minor, which boasts brilliantly virtuosic writing for soloist and orchestra. Gipps’ Ambarvalia is a rich, short orchestral study of Haydn-Mozart size without timpani.
Making her SOMM debut, the young British pianist Samantha Ward is the soloist for Bright’s Piano Concerto and Variations for Piano and Orchestra. Murray McLachlan returns to the label for Gipps’ Piano Concerto. His “adept fingerwork and energetic” contribution to Daydreams (SOMMCD 233) featuring the chamber and instrumental music of Arthur Sullivan “does full justice to the scores”, declared MusicWeb International.
Also making welcome first appearances on SOMM are the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Charles Peebles.
On This Recording
Dora Bright: Piano Concerto No.1 in A minor+* [24:26]
- I Allegro moderato
- II Intermezzo – andante espressivo
- III. Allegro
- Thema – Semplice – Moderato
- Variation 1: Grazioso
- Variation 2: Con Brio
- Variation 3: Andantino
- Variation 4: Tempo di Valse
- Variation 5: Allegretto Tranquillo
- Variation 6: Lento
- Variation 7: Scherzo – Finale
- I Allegro moderato
- II Andante
- III Vivace
- Ambarvalia, Op.70
Dora Bright: Variations for Piano and Orchestra +* [16:43]
Ruth Gipps: Piano Concerto in G minor, Op. 34** [26:19]
Ruth Gipps: Ambarvalia, Op. 70+ [7:54]
*Samantha Ward, piano
**Murray McLachlan, piano
“Samantha Ward is a most accomplished and responsive soloist and she receives excellent support from Charles Peebles and the RLPO… Murray McLachlan in alliance with the RLPO and Charles Peebles… seems to me to be successful in every way.… This is a valuable and rewarding disc. The standards of performance are very high throughout. … their complete neglect is unjustified and they are all well worth hearing. That judgement applies especially to the Ruth Gipps concerto. Ben Connellan’s recordings present the performances in excellent sound and the essay by Robert Matthew-Walker is characteristically informative and readable.” —John Quinn, MusicWeb International
“This heartening recoding features works for piano and orchestra by two long-neglected British composers… [Bright’s] piano writing is brilliant and subtle… the gem of the work is the haunting slow movement, its striking harmonies unfolding over a pedal-point fifth. … The pianist Samantha Ward sparkes and sings, bringing the work a helpful clarity and lightness of touch. … Ruth Gipps’s G minor Concerto seizes one immediately with her distinctive personality and voice… Here the soloist is Murray McLachlan, who brings out the work’s rugged character and tackles its challenges, which are uncompromising – especially in the intriciate finale – with unfailing intelligence and splended voicing.” —BBC Music Magazine