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Symphonic Studies (1938) ***
Overture 'Street Corner' (1944) *
Piano Concerto no.1 (1939 rev. 1942) **
Piano Concerto no.2 (1951) **

* ***London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir John Pritchard
** Malcolm Binns, piano
London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite


In my welcome not long ago for Peter Donohoe's recordings of the two piano concertos (Naxos 8.555959) I wrote that "Rawsthorne's voice is instantly recognizable and quite distinctive, with his turns of phrase, juxtapositions of tonality, consummate craftsmanship and acerbic wit" and this is as good a way to introduce the re-released Lyrita versions from the 1970s, which come up fresh as you could wish with Simon Gibson's digital remastering.

I am not given to comparative reviews (and apart from time constraints, they risk dulling fresh responses) so will limit myself to saying that Malcolm Binns, with different orchestras and conductors, has given me the greatest pleasure, and my best experience of the second concerto (so far as memory can be trusted - not a lot!).

Alan Frank links Rawsthorne's "idiosyncratic style" with Roussel's, which rings a bell with me; he is one of my favourite composers of his time. It is good to find confirmation in a fuller account of the latter by Robert Layton, who "finds Roussel's influence in the English composer Rawsthorne - - Roussel, though founding no "school" or artistic methodology, has nonetheless left his mark on the twentieth century soundscape".

If you need to choose, this compilation has for me the more attractive couplings, with the Symphonic Studies (which first made me a lifelong Rawsthorne enthusiast) and the boisterous and ingenious Street Corner overture.

Peter Grahame Woolf