It's time for more unopened/unheard music from the piles. This disc was released in 2011 but I likely
purchased it in 2013. I got it for the Stanley Bate works as I am a huge fan of this great composer. He deserves so much recognition, and thanks to Dutton he is getting a good deal of it. Of course, most people simply do not know of Bate, and I for one have never heard any of his music played on the radio nor have I ever read about his music being part of a concert program (in the States anyhow; several Bate world premieres took place in England, during the composer's lifetime). His symphonies in particular should be getting plenty of airtime, as should his masterful concerti (the Viola Concerto for instance, it's a knock out and I posted it here last summer...click on keyword Stanley Bate at the bottom if you haven't checked the disc out yet) and, needless to say-everything else. He is a masterful orchestrator and everything I have heard, I love.
Franz Reizenstein is unknown to me, so hopefully his Piano Concerto will be a real discovery; as far as Dutton's Epoch incredible series of lesser known, unsung British composers goes, I expect nothing will disappoint. The Bate works I can say for sure will be impressive (I have heard nothing but great things about the 2nd Piano Concerto) and I'm overflowing with excitement to hear them, especially after the day I have had! So let's survey this release together, sonic explorers...
Here is a review from Fanfare to whet the symphonic appetite:
Yet another irreplaceable number in Dutton’s endlessly fascinating series of premiere recordings pairs second piano concertos by two relatively short-lived and underappreciated composers born in the same year—Stanley Bate (1911–59) and Franz Reizenstein (1911–68).
After focusing on several of Bate’s most important postwar works (the Third and Fourth symphonies and the great Viola Concerto), Dutton now delves back into his promisingly active youthful 1930s with first recordings of one of his three piano concertos and the first of his two sinfoniettas. Though neither work is as complex in drama and design as the products of his maturity, the second concerto of 1940 is a very substantial and collaborative piece that does quite well by both the soloist (Bate introduced the work himself under Beecham) and its accompanying forces. As usual in Bate’s music, it is full of arresting ideas treated in unexpectedly inventive ways, reflecting his studies with another talented composer-pianist, Arthur Benjamin.
Though adhering more or less to classical models, Bate was always able to incorporate what he learned from two of the century’s greatest teachers (Hindemith and Boulanger) into the essentially British perspective he had inherited from his early studies with Vaughan Williams. This rich synthesis makes for a highly attractive Waltonian blend of interacting color and cogency, of the nationalistic and the cosmopolitan, comparable to those of members of an older generation such as Bliss and Goossens. The Sinfonietta, written two years earlier and consisting of two pairs of presto/andante movements, is an absolute romp, moving along at a breakneck pace and resembling many characteristics of a divertimento. It makes us eager to sample some of the ballet music Bate was turning out during these formative but productive years.
Also a gifted pianist, Franz Reizenstein was forced to leave his native Germany for the usual reasons and to emigrate to England as early as 1934. His first teacher had been Hindemith, but after further studies in England with Vaughan Williams, Constant Lambert, and the celebrated pianist Solomon, during the following three decades he amassed an impressive collection of orchestra, chamber, even choral music in many forms while making a living as a teacher and composer-for-hire, primarily for horror films.
The Second Piano Concerto of 1961 is written in his busily propulsive and forthrightly self-assured neoclassical style whose Hindemithian origins had absorbed a wide range of idioms, including a more populist bent. Like the Bate Second, it is quite approachable and communicative and makes for a fine virtuosic vehicle for both soloist and orchestra. Both Victor Sangiorgio and Martin Yates are full up to the demands made upon them and deliver smashing readings.
All in all, this is a most worthy and highly enjoyable addition to the Dutton catalog and leads one to hope they will explore more Bate concertos: two others for piano, three for violin, one each for cello and harpsichord. Meanwhile, no hesitation is required to acquire this disc.