The monumental Piano Sonata in D minor was composed by a young Benjamin Dale while he was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music. Dale’s contemporaries included the burgeoning composer-pianists Arnold Bax and York Bowen. Dale dedicated the sonata to his close friend Bowen, who gave the premiere of the work at the Academy in February 1905 and astonished listeners with its daring structural originality and thematic integrity and its breathtaking tonal colours. The elaborate form encompasses an impressive amalgamation of the traditional slow movement, scherzo and finale into an inventive set of variations. Also featured are Dale’s charming Prunella and Night Fancies in which Dale explores impressionistic colourings. Rather aptly, the final work on the disc is the first recording of York Bowen’s Miniature Suite in C major, the Humoresque of which is dedicated reciprocally to Dale.
His expressive sensibility and remarkable dexterity make young British pianist Danny Driver the ideal advocate for this repertoire. His landmark interpretations of the Bowen Sonatas were met with huge critical acclaim and Driver performs this incredibly virtuosic music with apparent ease, passion and lyricism. This disc of eclectic and intricate piano music will surely enhance his reputation as one of Britain’s finest pianists.
Here is a disc to warm the hearts and minds of those who treasure romantic nostalgia...it is doubtful that [the Sonata] has ever been played with a more shining commitment than by Danny Driver. His performance ranges from thundering rhetoric to a whispering poetic delicacy...you become enthralled by a pianist of such magisterial warmth and finesse...This issue is as moving as it is superlative. Gramophone
Danny Driver has an extraordinary affinity with English music of this period. He plays Dale's Sonata with a conviction and musicality that just might persuade you it's a forgotten masterpiece...Bowen's three-movement Suite, recorded with a slightly airier acoustic, is delivered with all the requisite wit and panache that the music demands. Classic fm *****
Danny Driver's stylish and immaculate playing makes an outstanding case for some technically demanding music. One for English music aficionados. BBC ****