In my recent list of Doreen Carwithen’s music currently available on CD, I missed one very important recording – the Piano Concerto on SOMM CD254. This was kindly brought to my attention by one of the regular readers of my blog. Alas, I have not had the opportunity of hearing this disc yet, so just a couple notes and quotes garnered from the internet.
The CD has three very important piano concertos played by Mark Bebbington. One of them, the Piano Concerto No.1 by Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) is a premiere recording. Malcolm Williamson’s (1930-2003) fine Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Strings in F sharp minor (1960) is a welcome addition to the classical music listings. Other versions of this work have included Piers Lane on Hyperion (Hyperion CDA 68011-2, 2014) as part of his survey of all Williamson’s piano concertos and Gwenneth Pryor on an old EMI vinyl album (EMI EMD 5520, 1975). As noted in my previous posting, Chandos issued Doreen Carwithen’s Piano Concerto on CHAN9524 in 1997 with the pianist Howard Shelley and with Richard Hickox conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.
In October 2014 Paul Corfield Godfrey reviewed the SOMM CD for MusicWeb International. After acknowledging that the concerto was one of the composer’s major works, he suggests that ‘Hickox obtains a richer sonority from his LSO strings at passages such as the big tune in the first movement…than the players here can contrive’. On the other hand, he wonders if ‘Carwithen really wanted the music here to sound quite as Rachmaninov-like as Hickox makes it’ but concludes that the Bebbington’s ‘smoothly emotional performance…has an equal validity…’ Andrew Achenbach in ‘Classical Ear’ suggests that Doreen Carwithen’s contribution is on a rather more ambitious scale than its bedfellows and can boast an especially satisfying finale’.
Mark Bebbington is accompanied by the Innovation Chamber Ensemble conducted by Richard Jenkinson. The Ensemble are drawn from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.