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I have to confess that I’ve not been as impressed as some by the music brought forward by the York Bowen revival of recent years: the label ‘the English Rachmaninov’ suggests a more individual profile than I’ve encountered. That said, his 24 Preludes, Op 102 (1938), show plenty of points of stylistic contact with Rachmaninov. It’s clear from the extraordinary resourcefulness of the piano writing that Bowen must have been a master of the instrument, and the Preludes buzz with inventive touches in rhythm and colour and adroit use of the pedal. Two shorter pieces – a free-standing Berceuse (1928) and the Barcarolle from Bowen’s Second Suite (circa 1910) – show him updating Chopin. The ‘Suite Mignonne’ (1915) offers a light confection to bring the disc to a close. Cristina Ortiz is at her fleet-fingered best here – and thoughtful-footed, too, since a sensitive pedal technique is vital in this repertoire.

MARTIN ANDERSON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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