There are three premiere recordings on this charming disc of the complete music for piano and orchestra by the unaccountably neglected Gabriel Pierné.
In his time Pierné was hugely successful as composer, conductor and organist—a sort of latter-day Saint-Saëns, and indeed his music is very reminiscent of that composer. The earliest three works on this CD were all written between 1885 and 1890 and could easily be mistaken for the older composer, the piano concerto even follows the unusual layout of Saint-Saëns' 2nd piano concerto in having a scherzo but no slow movement. The Poëme symphonique of 1903 is harmonically more daring and reminiscent of Franck. This work is a true orchestral symphonic poem with the piano fully integrated into the musical argument, it is also perhaps the most impressive work on this disc and its obscurity is inexplicable.
A disc full of surprises, all of them pleasant!
'Stephen Coombs savours the more exotic keyboard writing with confidence and a sure sense of style, contributing appropriately dazzling and light-fingered virtuosity when required' (International Record Review)
'This is the greatest thing since ice cream! ... Coombs and conductor Ronald Corp catch the concerto's sly leg-pull and puff the airy graciousness suffusing these youthful pieces with soufflé-like savoir faire' (Fanfare, USA)
'Every track on this disc is an absolute winner. Stephen Coombs revels in the myriad of notes that tear around the keyboard in such light-hearted mood, the pro-active orchestral partnership captured in a superb recording' (The Yorkshire Post - The Guide)