Chandos continues to champion the works of York Bowen, this time turning to the chamber works of this great composer who, after years of neglect, is finding ever growing audiences. The works are performed by the Gould Piano Trio, one of the finest ensembles of their kind, which is joined by the clarinettist Robert Plane, violinist Mia Cooper, and violist David Adams. The Piano Trio in E minor is arguably Bowen’s masterpiece of chamber music and one of the finest such works by a British composer. It features a natural fluency and melodic expression that are hallmarks of Bowen’s output. The Phantasy Quintet is a fascinating work for the virtually unique combination of bass clarinet and string quartet. Flowing seamlessly, the music masterfully integrates the bass clarinet into the texture. Also included is the first movement from the unfinished early Piano Trio in D minor, edited for this premiere recording by the Gould Piano Trio. Its structure is simpler and less organic than the later works but it is an intriguing piece and clearly the work of a gifted creative figure. The Rhapsody Trio in A minor and Clarinet Sonata in F minor complete the disc.
When András Schiff completed the recording of all of Schubert's piano sonatas in the 1990s, Decca released a box set containing all of the individual discs from the series. For this 2011 reissue, Decca goes one step further and includes Schiff's recordings of the Impromptus, the Moments musicaux, and several other shorter works. Schubert's music, along with that of Bach and Mozart, is one of the cornerstones upon which Schiff built his reputation as a thoughtful and intelligent performer. Anyone looking for a complete set of the Schubert sonatas could do much worse than to choose this one by one of the foremost Schubert interpreters of his generation.
It’s fair enough that those with a vested interest in Sibelius’s piano music want to give it more visibility than it has had before. This collection of all the published piano works with opus numbers comes a with a comprehensive booklet note (by Antti Häyrynen); sensibly, this doesn’t make excessive claims regarding what is, with exceptions, a mediocre area of Sibelius’s output.