SOMM Recordings announces the first complete survey on disc of George Dyson’s music for solo piano including five premiere recordings performed by Simon Callaghan in a specially priced two-CD set.
Callaghan is joined by Clíodna Shanahan for the first recording of the two-piano version of Concerto Leggiero, a mature work originally composed for piano and string orchestra. Almost classical in its sense of economy, the two-piano arrangement boasts a remarkable lyricism.
Born in Halifax in 1833, Dyson studied with Stanford and Parry before becoming one of the most prominent British composers and distinguished teachers of his generation. Best known for his choral work, his piano music spans his career. Heard in its entirety, it provides valuable new insights into his development as a composer. Other first recordings include the seven-year-old Dyson’s first work for piano, Untitled Piano Piece, the exam board commission for young pianists, Twelve Easy Pieces, and The Open Window and Six Lyrics, character pieces designed to help develop technique and musical imagination in young pianists.
Among other works included are the Debussy-accented Primrose Mount, the dazzling set of fugues Bach’s Birthday and so-called War Epigrams, inspired by Dyson’s experiences on the Western Front before being invalided home.
Dyson biographer Paul Spicer provides authoritative booklet notes.
Simon Callaghan’s recent SOMM releases include British Violin Sonatas with Clare Howick (SOMMCD 0610; described by MusicWeb International as “expertly performed with unalloyed musicality and commitment”) and a survey of Roger Sacheverell Coke’s piano music (SOMMCD 0147), of which MusicWeb International said: “The commanding and virtuosic musicianship of Simon Callaghan allows this quirkily individual music to register with maximum effect – a fascinating and compelling disc”.
Making her debut on SOMM, Clíodna Shanahan has a busy performing and recording schedule for TV, radio, symphony and chamber concerts. A pianist and organist, she also records film soundtracks, most notably Howard Shore’s The Hobbit.
On This Recording
Concerto Leggiero for two pianos*a
- I Allegro
- II Andante
- III Vivace The Open Window*
- Field and Wood
- Gentle Rain
- The Patrol
- The Green
- Evensong Primrose Mount
- Primrose Mount Bach's Birthday
- Vivace possibile Untitled Piano Piece*
- Untitled Piano Piece Six Lyrics*
- Mazurka Disc Two My Birthday
- Quietly Twelve Easy Pieces
- Scotch Snap
- Legato Study
- Scale Study -
- Five finger Study
- Study in Canon Prelude and Ballet
- Ballet Epigrams
- A Capriccio
- Di ballo
- Con fuoco
- Alla capella Three Wartime Epigrams
- An Autograph
- Con moto tranquillo
- Sostenuto ed espressivo Four Twilight Preludes
- A capriccio
“Another debt of gratitude to SOMM for adding one more piece to the great jigsaw puzzle of British 20th Century music. … Callaghan pitches his performances here to perfection. … in every instance Callaghan finds moments to cherish with phrasing, dynamics and pedalling that makes subtle and telling musical points. All too often this type of music, aimed at a younger or less able group of performers, suffers by that association with its inherent qualities masked by the limitations of those who play it. Here you can hear the understated sophistication of the writing and how well wrought this music is.… As ever, SOMM back up the excellence of the music-making with a production to match. … Callaghan’s Steinway Model ‘D’ piano sounds in superb condition. This is not music that requires the player to thunder around the keyboard but in some ways exactly this musical moderation can make greater demands of the production team to ensure that the music emerges with unforced clarity, sounding warm not thin and with presence. All of that this disc has. In turn, Dyson expert Paul Spicer provides a detailed and informative liner filling in details both about Dyson’s life and the music presented here. Again, as normal, SOMM have found an attractive an appropriate illustration for the booklet cover to top off another rewarding and valuable release. Dyson was one of several composers who dedicated much energy and creativity into producing a valuable body of work for “learners” – for all too long this important service has been neglected in terms of assessing its intrinsic musical merits. This set is an important step in that reassessment.” — Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International
“even with the fingering is simple and the length very brief, Dyson usually packs in plenty of substance, with tricky rhythms, surprising harmonies that belie his conservative image and considerable authentic charm. …in the Open Window set of 1920, Dyson succeeds in traditional ways, painting vivid musical pictures… Simon Callaghan, a devoted specialist in forgotten British repertoire, tackles this varied fare with aplomb. Cliodna Shanahan joins him for Dyson’s… two-piano arrangement of the 1951 Concerto Leggiero, almost Les Six-ish… [a] welcome release.” —Geoff Brown, BBC Music Magazine
“The past quarter of a century has brought steady reappraisal of George Dyson, and while an extensive choral output remains his main legacy, his orchestral, chamber and piano pieces should not be overlooked, as Simon Callaghan’s intégrale of the latter confirms. … Callaghan renders these and other solo pieces with a conviction not merely in their technical mastery but their musical worth. Also included here is the two-piano reduction of Concerto leggiero (1951)… [Nor is the absence of strings a real loss, given the alacrity with which Clíodna Shanahan tackles the second piano part. Sound and annotations leave nothing to be desired, so making this a desirable purchase for Dyson devotees or those wishing to try out some unfamiliar, yet rewarding music.” —Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone
“We do not generally associate Sir George Dyson with the piano, but this 101-minute album demonstrates that he was very much in touch with its repertoire… It is also good to hear the arrangement of the quirky yet voluptuous Concerto Leggiero in its scoring for two pianos, sympathetically played by Callaghan and Shanahan. Another jewel from SOMM!” —Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone (Critic’s Choice)