Nimbus Records on Facebook Nimbus Records on Twitter Nimbus Records on YouTube



Francis Shaw: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2



Francis Shaw was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, in 1942 and has become one of the most versatile of contemporary British composers, having written a wide range of music, most notably for film and television. In addition, he has enjoyed parallel careers as a respected professor of composition and musical administrator.

As with many composers whose work has taken them into diverse musical fields, the range of his accomplishments has tended to draw attention away from what lies at the heart of his output – his serious music, less extensive than that of his more commercial work, but which - as the concertos on this disc amply demonstrate - is of a quality and achievement manifestly deserving of far greater recognition than it has received hitherto.

Shaw’s serious output contains two operas and two further concertos (for viola and for harpsichord), but within his concert music, his piano concertos have to be considered as being amongst the most greatly significant contributions to the genre by any British composer of the last six decades – fully the equal of more well-known examples as those by Rawsthorne (No 2), Rubbra, Tippett, Bennett, Hoddinott and McCabe.
Robert Matthew-Walker

Francis Shaw: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2


The First Piano Concerto, like its successor, is in three movements, the first of which rocks and sways with dissonance. By contrast the second ('Slow Blues') is candidly bluesy - a questing dream in aquamarine. It tends towards the woozily disorientating. The finale sends sparks and shudders in all directions but at its centre there is some very inward-speaking music. It's all recorded with attractive directness in a superb hall.

Francis Shaw has every reason to thank Martin Jones, the orchestra and the conductor. I cannot imagine this music being presented with greater skill or more persuasively. Even so this, for me, is not the most commanding entry in Lyrita's illustrious and compellingly attractive catalogue.

It's all most attentively played and superbly recorded. Lyrita admirers, understandably legion, will want this. Francis Shaw will have his enthusiasts - and I would like to hear more.  Rob Barnett, Musicweb-international