Bax: Private Passions - Piano Music
Catalog: SOMMCD 0193
“Truly a remarkable pianist” – The Times Pianist Mark Bebbington’s long association with SOMM Recordings has produced a remarkable array of recordings championing newly discovered British music. Pairing the piano music of Arnold Bax and Harriet Cohen, his latest release includes eight first recordings and promises fresh insights into the music of a revered English master and revelatory performances of an overlooked composer who subsequently found fame as a pianist. The result, Private Passions, is an illuminating dialogue between one of the pre-eminent British composers of the last century and his muse who together shared a 42-year-long love affair. The eight first recordings here include Bax’s vitally contrasted Four Pieces from 1947 and Cohen’s evocatively colored Russian Impressions – the first documented public performance of which Bebbington gave in London in 2015 – a suite dating from around 1913 that variously hints at the influence of Mussorgsky, Debussy and Glinka. Heard here in its original version, Bax’s E flat Piano Sonata of 1921 (which prompted the composer’s First Symphony) is as vivid and rich a statement as he ever made. Completing the album is Bax’s In the Night (Passacaglia), an evocative piece that owes much to the intimacy of his relationship with Cohen, and Legend, boasting music of grandeur and poetry wholly suited to its title. Mark Bebbington’s previous release with SOMM featured piano concertos by Grieg and Delius – “A Grieg concerto the equal of any I have heard, the most enjoyable version of the Delius concerto I know and a novelty world premiere to boot. All round excellence” (MusicWeb International) – and was an Album of the Week for The Times, Classic FM and Mail on Sunday.