Driver champions Bowen violin works with Hanslip

We can thank Danny Driver for researching and devising this latest addition to Hyperion's absorbing York Bowen series. The programme spans nearly half a century, from the Romance in D flat major of 1900 to a pair of highly attractive miniatures - Song and Bolero - that were both composed on the same day, January 22, 1949. Some 43 years separate the two sonatas, the earlier specimen an unpublished piece in B minor from 1902 comprising just two contrasting movements - and which may conceivably have started out as a bigger canvas. Its E minor companion from 1945, on the other hand, is a mature work of striking concision and self-confidence, brimful of memorable, red-blooded invention. Both the Suite in D minor (premièred by Fritz Kreisler with the 25-year-old composer at the piano in 1909) and Phantasie (commissioned by WW Cobbett) evince a comparable idiomatic mastery and fecund lyrical gift. Of the remaining six items I was particularly smitten with the 1917 diptych of Serenade and Valse Harmonique, the latter a captivating morsel of exquisite grace and capricious charm.

Of course, some of this material we've had before on rival compilations from Dutton Epoch and EM Records but there's a wholly infectious conviction, spontaneity and panache about these superbly accomplished performances that lend them special distinction. Chloë Hanslip plays with the most enviably sweet and subtly variegated tone throughout and she forms an outstandingly compelling partnership with Danny Driver, whose irreproachably eager and stylish pianism is a joy to encounter. Production values, too, are as superior as one might expect from the experienced Keener/Eadon team - and a final word of praise for Francis Pott's thoughtful notes.

Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone
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