Danny Driver - Pianist

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The international critical acclaim that Danny Driver’s recordings and performances have generated over recent years has cemented his reputation as one of Britain’s most respected and versatile pianists. Described variously as ‘bold, exuberant and precise’ [The Guardian] and of ‘impeccable technique and musicianship’ [Gramophone], he has earned two Gramophone Award nominations, a National Public Radio Top 10 Award and Limelight Magazine’s Instrumental Recording of the Year 2014 Award for his recording of Handel’s Eight Great Suites.

Recent concerto appearances have included the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Minnesota Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, Hong Kong Pro Arte, and the Louisiana Philharmonic. He has appeared twice at the BBC Proms, most recently with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Dutoit.  Other distinguished conductors with whom Driver has performed include Andrew Litton, Richard Farnes, Martyn Brabbins, Rebecca Miller, Rory Macdonald, Christopher Warren-Green, James Macmillan, Bramwell Tovey, Alexander Shelley and Mario Venzago.

Recitals feature prominently in Danny Driver’s schedule; he has appeared regularly at the Wigmore Hall, most recently in a BBC Radio 3 live broadcast recital (Handel, Adès, Beethoven, CPE Bach, Schumann), in Germany, Italy, Israel, Sweden, USA, China, and at many major venues in the UK.  Highlights of  his 2016-17 schedule included the Southbank Centre’s International Piano Series (London), Music Toronto, the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, and performances of Ligeti’s Piano Études across the USA and in Japan. 2017-18 highlights include a solo Wigmore recital (for broadcast on Radio 3), a series of performances of Beethoven Piano Concerto no.4 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and his recently-recorded Amy Beach Concerto in Uppsala, Sweden.

As a chamber musician, Danny Driver has appeared at the Australian Chamber Music Festival, Bard Music Festival, Birdfoot Music Festival, Eilat Chamber Music Festival, Cayman Arts Festival, and Stockholm’s Festival O/Modernt. He collaborates regularly with violinist Chloë Hanslip, with whom he is currently undertaking a complete Beethoven Violin Sonata Cycle at Turner Sims Hall (recorded live for release next year), as well as a Wigmore Hall Coffee Concert, and with baritone Christian Immler, with whom he has given broadcast recitals for Deutschland Radio and Radio France.  Driver’s long-standing partnership with ‘cellist Oliver Coates recently included a performance of Morton Feldman’s Patterns in a Chromatic Field at King’s Place and Adès’ Lieux Retrouvés.

Driver’s fruitful relationship with London-based Hyperion Records has spawned a thoroughly acclaimed discography of works by CPE Bach, Handel, Schumann, and Balakirev, and also highly praised interpretations of neglected British composers such York Bowen, Benjamin Dale and Erik Chisholm, all of whom he has championed in concert as well as on record. A second contribution to Hyperion’s epic Romantic Piano Concerto Series, released in March 2017, featuring works by Amy Beach, Dorothy Howell and Cécile Chaminade, has also been much-lauded by critics.

Danny Driver trained with Alexander Kelly and Piers Lane whilst studying at Cambridge University, with Irina Zaritskaya at the Royal College of Music in London, and completed his studies privately with Maria Curcio. As a student he won numerous awards including the Royal Over-Seas League Keyboard Competition and the title of BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year. He was recently appointed Professor of Piano at the Royal College of Music.

Danny Driver… who is going from strength to strength at the moment, turns in a powerhouse performance on his new Schumann album, playing with great technical prowess, and admirably alert to the fluctuations of mood and feeling within the prevailing intensity of the whole. His subtle, deeply felt reading of the melancholy Nachtstücke of 1839 provides contrast and relief, and the recital closes with the calm Romanze in F sharp, exquisitely done. Recommended.

4* Guardian Review – Novelleten und Nachtstücke – 13 November 2014

The poise, focus and imagination that Driver brings to the Novelletten are equally applied to the four Nachtstücke, the crepuscular atmosphere of the first one being set against the shifting lights and images of the other three. This is playing of a most perceptive order.

The Daily Telegraph review: Novelleten und Nachtstücke (23 November 2014)

In every regard, Driver proves to be an ideal interpreter of Schumann. His technique is exemplary, and his feeling for the emerging Romanticism of Schumann’s music is impressive…..Among Driver’s qualities is that he does not sentimentalise the music, conveying just the right amount of expression, allied to clarity of detail and most musicianly phrasing….It would surely be impossible to imagine finer accounts than these…

Classical Source on Novelleten und Nachtstücke (Hyperion)

Three years ago, Danny Driver and BBCSSO made a superb recording of his two piano concertos; here they returned to the Second, the Hindustani. Written in 1949, it’s an elaborate, sometimes baffling but always dazzlingly vivid work. Chunks of mechanistic brawn butt up against lapping raga-infused passages, and there’s real thrust and luminosity in the piano writing. Driver’s delivery was ideal: urgent, direct and unfussy, with touches of gentle eloquence and mysticism.

Erik Chisholm – ‘Hindustani’ Concerto – BBC SSO in Glasgow – Guardian (Kate Molleson)

Danny Driver’s gripping and electric performance of Erik Chisholm’s lengthy Hindustani Concerto…was dazzling in its Bartokian bite and punch, and supremely intelligent in its coherent integration into the musical texture of the raga elements, which were neither intrusive nor obtrusive in the drive and flow of the music.

Eric Chisholm’s ‘Hindustani’ Concerto, BBCSSO in Glasgow – The Herald, 12th March 2014

Pianist Danny Driver clearly relished the chance to perform this unusual and neglected work with a brilliant performance of insistent, continually flowing notes. As the movement built to a particularly stormy section, Driver actually lifted off his seat at times as his fingers danced right round the keyboard, before a calmer interlude and beautiful solo clarinet brought a more reflective mood. The second movement was a series of variations on Rag Shri, associated with calming and early evening. Driver’s left hand played undulating figures, while his right took on Chisholm’s notated raga improvisations. Other variations were more boisterous, but a particular highlight was the cellos holding a theme emerging from the orchestra and the delicate brush touch of a gong to end. Finally, the Raga Vasantee was a particularly lively celebration of the coming of spring, starting with spiky, bird-like phrases on the piano before developing into a carnival-like riot, with phrases thrillingly hurtled round by the orchestra players and soloist.

David Smythe – 11 March 2014 – www.Bachtrack.com

Danny Driver – Chisholm’s ‘Hindustani’ Masterpiece with BBC Scottish Symphony

Danny DriverWe 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

Driver champions Bowen violin works with Hanslip

A brilliant account of the Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Egyptian”), with Danny Driver as the soloist, left you wondering why this piece is not standard repertory (Sain-Saens’ Concerto No. 5 with the American Symphony Orchestra, cond. Leon Botstein, at the Bard Festival)

New York Times – 13 August 2012

“The second half started with Andrew Litton (no less – due back soon for a marathon Prom with the Royal Philharmonic) and Proms debutant Danny Driver for the Reizenstein. It is a wonderfully daft hotchpotch of a piece, a miracle of filleting and slapstick that Litton and Driver played to perfection – including a text message from soloist to conductor to enquire when a chord was going to end – leading to a continued disagreement over the exact placing of the final chord.”

Classical Source (Nick Breckenfield)

“The standout triumph was a blast from the past. Franz Reizenstein wrote his Concerto Popolare for Gerard Hoffnung’s first music festival in 1956; its soloist wanders from Grieg to Beethoven to Rachmaninov while the increasingly irate maestro insists on conducting Tchaikovsky. Like all good musical jokes, it’s lame in the telling and hilarious in the hearing, and Danny Driver’s pianist and Andrew Litton’s conductor were note-perfect impersonations of their preening archetypes. It should have been compulsory viewing for some of their less self-aware peers.”

The Times (Neil Fisher) – August 2011

York Bowen – Complete Works for Violin and Piano

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Erik Chisholm – Piano Concertos

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York Bowen – The Piano Sonatas

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The Romantic Piano Concerto – Volume 46 – York Bowen

 

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Balakirev – Works for Piano

 

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CPE Bach – Keyboard Sonatas Volume II

 

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J S BACH

Concerto for three harpsichords in C BWV 1064 (modern piano)
Concerto for four harpsichords in A minor BWV 1065 (modern piano)

BEETHOVEN

Piano Concerto no 1 in C major Op 15
Piano Concerto no 3 in C minor Op 37
Piano Concerto no 4 in G major Op 58
Piano Concerto no 5 in E flat major Op 73
Triple Concerto in C major Op 56 for Piano, Violin & Cello

YORK BOWEN

Piano Concerto no 3 in G major Op 23
Piano Concerto no 4 in A minor Op 88

ERIK CHISHOLM

Piano Concerto no 1 ‘Piobrocheadh’
Piano Concerto no 2 ‘Hindustani’

MANUEL DE FALLA

Nights in the Gardens of Spain

HOWARD FERGUSON

Concerto for Piano & Strings Op 12

GERSHWIN
Rhapsody in Blue

GRIEG
Piano Concerto in A minor Op 16

HAYDN
Piano Concerto no 5 in D

CONSTANT LAMBERT
The Rio Grande for piano, chorus & orchestra

MOZART Piano

Concerto no 21 in C K467
Piano Concerto no 22 in E flat K482
Piano Concerto no 23 in A K488
Piano Concerto no 24 in C minor K491
Piano Concerto for 2 pianos in E flat K365
‘Ch’io mi scordi di te…’ for soprano, piano & orchestra

PROKOFIEV

Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor Op 16
Piano Concerto no 3 in C major Op 26

RACHMANINOV

Piano Concerto no 2 in C minor Op 18
Piano Concerto no 3 in D minor Op 30

RAVEL

Piano Concerto in G major
Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand

ALAN RAWSTHORNE

Piano Concerto no 2 in F sharp

SAINT-SAËNS

Piano Concerto no 2 in G minor
Piano Concerto no 5 in F major (‘Egyptian’)

SCHUMANN

Piano Concerto in A minor Op 54

SHOSTAKOVICH
Piano Concerto no 1 in C minor Op 35

TCHAIKOVSKY
Piano Concerto no 1 in Bb minor Op 23

WALTON

Sinfonia Concertante