Charles O’Brien: Complete Piano Music, Volume One

Catalogue No: TOCC0256
EAN/UPC: 5060113442567
Release Date: 2014-09-01
Composer: Charles O'Brien
Artists: Warren Mailley-Smith

Charles O'Brien (1882-1968) was a mainstay of musical life in Edinburgh, but his attractive, lyrical muse has long been forgotten even there, let alone anywhere else. This first recording in a series devoted to his music reveals a composer whose lively music reflects his Scottish heritage, mixing grand gestures with Schumannesque intimacies and Brahmsian bravura.

Warren Mailley-Smith, piano

3 reviews for Charles O’Brien: Complete Piano Music, Volume One

  1. :

    ‘…True, and not unsurprisingly, O’Brien’s music owes much to the composers mentioned above [Schumann, Mendelssohn and Brahms] but it also uniquely reflects his Scottish heritage, though in a subtle, rather than full-in-the-face manner. It is this balance that really makes it so attractive and fresh on the ear, even for those who might feel that they’ve already run the complete gamut, as far as Romantic piano music is concerned.…O’Brien’s Sonata opens in the manner of a two-part invention, leaning stylistically on Mendelssohn, and feeling hesitant and anxious, rather than Grieg’s opening, which is forthright and assertive from the very first bar. The development features a stylistic trait which O’Brien made good use of, even if one of his teachers, Hamish MacCunn, perhaps the best-known Scottish composer of the day, disapproved – ‘splashy broken chords’. …While ‘The award-winning concert-pianist Warren Mailley-Smith’ is an unfamiliar name to me, he does a good job here, sympathetic to the music itself, and with a technique that can do justice to its at times quite intricate and dazzling figurations. The difficulty is always in playing with complete abandon – something which a lot of this music cries out for – while ever mindful of the need for clinical accuracy, and something which is less of an issue on a live-CD recording. Whether Mailley-Smith was specifically chosen to pioneer the piano music of Charles O’Brien because of an affinity for and association with the composer’s music, or for some other reason, he certainly does a convincing job of the task in hand and, as ever, the instrument is well recorded.’

    —Philip R Buttall, MusicWeb International

  2. :

    ‘…Mailley-Smith is clearly dedicated to, and fond of, this music, and plays it with total involvement, good pacing, and a nice coloristic range. I could imagine a more flowing legato in some of the cantabile portions, but this is a minor quibble. Fine, natural recorded sound rounds out the disc. For anyone with an interest in out-of-the-ordinary Romantic piano music, and not upset by the thought of music from the first quarter of the 20th century that sounds as if it came from the middle-late 19th century, this is highly recommended. I know I will return to it for pleasure in the future.’

    —Henry Fogel, Fanfare Magazine, January/February 2015

  3. :

    ‘Donna Easton in Edinburg has been in touch via [email protected]: “All this week”, says Donna, “I’ve been listening to the wonderful recently released CD of piano music by Charles O’Brien, Scottish composer who lived from 1811 to 1968, pupil of the better-known Hamish McCunn. I can’t believe this lovely music has been neglected. I heard his Ellangowan Overture played in Edinburgh last year, and when I saw that Toccata Classics were to issue some of his piano music, I just had to get a copy. I particularly like the Piano Sonata in E minor.”
    The second movement of Charles o’Brien’s Piano Sonata in E minor, played by Warren Mailley-Smith; that’s a new release that’s been delighting Donna Easton in Edinburgh. Thanks very much for that suggestion; we might get to the Scottish Scenes and Waltzes at some point in a future week in Breakfast.’

    —Presenter Petroc Trelawny, Breakfast, BBC Radio 3

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *