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A treat for fans of English music: two piano concertos by two ladies, Dora Bright (1862-1951) and Ruth Gipps (1921-99). Bright’s writing in the concerto is highly Romantic, gesturing towards Schumann and Brahms, but the material is undeniably English. The music is breezy, something the RLPO clearly enjoys. Ward is a fine player, as her previous disc of Freckleton proved, finding just the right flow for the appealing melodies. The Intermezzo-like central movement’s melody has a Schubertian rightness, ceding to an airy finale. Bright’s Variations are splendidly imagined, including a deliciously tripping waltz.

Gipps’ music is better served in the catalogues. Nice to have the attractive tone-poem, Ambarvalia. The indefatigable McLachlan shines in the solo part of Gipps’ postwar concerto. Soloist and orchestra work in communion, exuding a sense of discovery; the Finzi-like Andante is a dream.

Both concertos benefitted from musicological input from Valerie Langfield. Unmissable.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2019 - ©Rhinegold Publishing