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Benjamin Dale: Piano Sonata in D Minor / William Hurlstone: iano Sonata in F Minor

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Performer: Mark Bebbington
  • Composer: Benjamin Dale, William Hurlstone
  • Audio CD (October 12, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Somm Recordings
  • ASIN: B003NVWKVU
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,409 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
The Hurlstone Sonata is a real gem, squarely in the Schumann-Brahms tradition, a work that can stand comparison with the Brahms and Schumann piano sonatas , dramatic, lyrical,majestic in turn, reminisces of late Brahms and the Schumann 3rd Piano Sonata, but still a youthful Romantic spirit. Why this is the first recording is a mystery. The Dale Sonata is pleasant, but hardly inspiring, more perspiration than inspiration, Delius-lite perhaps, fine as easy listening and not boring, but buy the cd for the Hurlstone. Bebbington is an effective advocate for both.I shall now seek out the Hurlstone Piano Concerto.
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Format: Audio CD
Mark Bebbington, a major proponent of British piano music, has unearthed two obscure piano sonatas, but only the Hurlstone is a gem. The death of William Hurlstone (1876-1906) may have robbed Britain of a promising young composer. It is difficult to gauge how much of an impact he would have made, but his Piano Concerto and chamber music reveal admirable qualities. I don't think he was quite the budding genius as suggested by Vaughan Williams and Stanford. The music world suffered a greater loss from the premature deaths of Stanchinsky, Lekeu, Reubke, and Tausig. However, the Hurlstone sonata is his best solo piano work; the Capriccio is another worthy piece which can be heard on Toccata Classics.

Hurlstone's "Piano Sonata in F minor" is spawned from the mold of Schumann and Brahms. The first movement has all the requisite elements of a good Sonata-Allegro: well-wrought serious and lyrical themes with an engaging development and dramatic coda. It is the second movement, heavily steeped in Wagner and Brahms, that impressed me most. Hurlstone exhibits startling expressive depth and passion with a central section of real power and emotion. Had he continued writing like this, he would have made a great mark in the British music world. The robust finale features massive Brahmsian chords and Schumannesque kinetic energy. Note that Bebbington plays much slower than Kenji Fujimura on Toccata Classics. This really works well in the slow movement with its drooping chromaticism and profound Wagnerian lines.
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