BBC Music Magazine June 2011 Instrumental Choice
Pianist Danny Driver has garnered overwhelming critical praise – and a Gramophone award nomination – for his previous discs for Hyperion. His authoritative and virtuosic performances of York Bowen and CPE Bach have placed him firmly in the ‘one to watch’ category. For his latest disc, he turns to one of the giants of the Russian piano world.
This disc looks beyond the ubiquitous ‘Islamey’ to some of Balakirev’s most important works – which are curiously underrepresented on disc. The Piano Sonata in B flat minor is a major achievement of the period and one quite unlike any contemporary large-scale piano composition. Its absence from the standard repertoire is unfortunate, as it is fully worthy of such a place. Undoubtedly this marvellous recording will provoke a reappraisal.
Hyperion's new release is full of music that mixes Chopinesque grace with Russian-bear grandiosity. Driver is the sort of pianist who can handle both, delivering performances of poise, power and no shortage of passion. BBC *****
Driver presents [Islamey] in a tonally ravishing and lucid performance of the utmost sensitivity...the disc is unquestionably another feather in the cap of a pianist whose every new release is now eagerly anticipated. Gramophone
It's wonderful to see a talent such as this continuing to address the more obscure pianistic byways, and here Driver has assembled a fabulous array of works from Balakirev's very varied keyboard output...This is a fabulous introduction to the very diverse and unduly neglected works by one of the finest of nineteenth-century pianist composers. Int. Record Review