SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

SIR EUGENE GOOSSENS: Phantasy Concerto for piano and orchestra Op. 60; Symphony No. 1 Op. 58 – Howard Shelley, piano/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox – Chandos

The Phantasy Concerto would probably do well in the concert halls today instead of the same tired old few piano concertos.

Published on March 10, 2009

SIR EUGENE GOOSSENS: Phantasy Concerto for piano and orchestra Op. 60; Symphony No. 1 Op. 58 – Howard Shelley, piano/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox – Chandos

SIR EUGENE GOOSSENS: Phantasy Concerto for piano and orchestra Op. 60; Symphony No. 1 Op. 58 – Howard Shelley, piano/ Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox – Chandos multichannel SACD CHSA 5068, 64:40 ***** [Distr. by Naxos]:

Goossens, who lived until 1962, was better known as a conductor than a composer.  As a conductor, originally supported by Beecham, he championed new music, but he wrote a good deal of it himself.  Both of his operas were produced at Covent Garden between the world wars. He moved to Cincinnati in the 1930s to conduct that symphony and later was active in Australia.

The Piano Concerto was written for Jose Iturbi and first performed in 1944. It has a freely chromatic character and has been compared with some of the piano works of Cyril Scott.  A couple of the melodies have a somewhat jazzy flavor and there are castanets are one point to give a Spanish mood. This would probably do well in the concert halls today instead of the same tired old few piano concertos.

Goossens’ First Symphony was designed for and is dedicated to his colleagues at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Its slow second movement features a somber but lovely bass clarinet solo. The Finale is described by the composer as having no program but dealing with the “old abstractions” – the verities of life, love and death.

This was the final recording session with the late conductor Richard Hickox, who recorded 282 discs for Chandos, and it is the premiere recording of the Phantasy Concerto.  The 5.0-channel hi-res surround sonics are without fault.  Both these works should be urged into more prominence by this excellent SACD release.

 - John Sunier




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