SCOTT Piano Concerto, Op 10. Cello Concerto, Op 19
This is an ecstatic outpouring of unknown music. Scott studied in Frankfurt along with Grainger and Quilter, then returned to Liverpool, where his parents lived, in 1899. The Overture Pelleas and Melisanda was performed in Frankfurt before Debussy’s opera or Schoenberg’s work – Scott knew Maeterlinck and Debussy, who admired him – but these two early concertos could be receiving their first performances. The manuscripts are in the Percy Grainger Museum and Martin Yates has prepared performance materials and completed a few passages.
British composers flocked to Germany in the later 19th century to inject some technique into the renaissance of British music. Scott’s early Piano Concerto (1900) has a Wagnerian continuity in its harmony and some chromatic melodic lines. Scott became a predominantly harmonic composer, like Scriabin, and even at this stage there’s a sonorous sensuality that would remain in later works. And Scott wasn’t just a composer – see a new study, The Aesthetic Life of Cyril Scott by Sarah Collins (Boydell).
It’s hard to see why Scott disowned the Piano Concerto, which has had to wait over a century to be heard. He probably felt that he had suffered from an overdose of Wagner. However, there’s everything that a popular Romantic concerto needs, replete with gestures that Hollywood would exploit. Donohoe’s stunning performance makes the best possible case for this to become a repertoire piece. The Cello Concerto (1902) might almost have been written by Wagner: Raphael Wallfisch revels in its expansive melodic style and delivers another eloquent performance. Excellent recordings too.