Indeed, this is all you need to know to get a handle on this composer without actually having to listen to anything, and was perhaps written in the liner notes by someone who had heard it all before and thought they might save other people a bit of  time. Once you have heard it all yourself, you might think they have a point, but Hyperion has acted in the spirit of artistic appreciation by offering all of Bowen’s sonatas on the one double CD.

Time-wise, these works spread across half a century of history when the world changed at least three times and Bowen’s music hardly did at all. Born in 1884 in London, he was a romantic right from the start, preferring minor keys and bluesy inflections without giving any clues about what else may have been happening in the history of Western harmony. If you fix on the sound of one sonata, you have fixed on them all. The nearest Bowen got to surprising anyone in his career as a composer was coming out with a Short Sonata, when fans might have expected something called Piano Sonata
No 4 (which he wrote, but nobody seems to know where it went). The proverbial faint praise is that he started out writing pretty good music, and ended up doing the same.

Driver delivers a nice set to have for the sake of completeness, knowing that he is perhaps not tackling the most horizon-expanding of musical subjects.