Label: Hyperion CDA67625 - UPC: 034571176253 - ASIN: B001CJYJQY - CD Release: September 9, 2008
Recording Type: DDD, Stereo, Studio - Recording Date: September 21-23, 2007
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotlans - Running Time: 1 11' 16''
While it could never hope to supplant the definitive stereo Decca recording of Britten's early piano concerto with the dedicatee at the keyboard and the composer on the podium, this digital Hyperion recording does provide a valuable supplement to the earlier recording. There, of course, the magisterial Sviatoslav Richter was the soloist and the masterful Britten was the conductor in a performance full of high spirits and coruscating virtuosity that at last established the work as a modernist masterpiece. Here, on the other hand, the soloist is the very talented Steven Osborne who seems to have the feel of the music deep in his bones. Though his playing is not at Richter's Olympian level, it is a vivacious and scintillating account that stresses the concerto's youthful energy and insouciant irony. Beyond the performance's intrinsic virtues, the addition of the concerto's original slow movement, an expressive Recitative and Aria, plus the equally early Young Apollo for piano, string quartet and string orchestra and Diversions for piano (left hand) and orchestra make this disc an appealing complement to the Decca disc. Sonically, both recordings are excellent in distinctly different ways. Hyperion's digital sound is clean, cool, and detailed, while Decca's stereo sound rich, warm, and deep. Any sufficiently dedicated Britten enthusiast should certainly hear both discs.