Malcolm Binns

Malcolm Binns


• Born 1936


Malcolm Binns is best known for his incisive interpretations of British piano music. Much of this repertory is little known and includes works by Bax, William Sterndale Bennett, Bridge, Britten, Hamilton Harty, Ireland, Patrick Piggott, Rawsthorne, Rubbra, and Stanford. Binns' non-British repertory also involves neglected fare, as it takes in works by Hummel, Lyapunov, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Medtner. Even when Binns has tackled repertory standards he has often done so in an unorthodox fashion: his 1977 traversal of the 32 Beethoven sonatas on L'Oiseau Lyre was the first period-instrument set ever recorded. His vast repertory also includes works by Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann, Grieg, Rachmaninov, Bartók, Prokofiev, and Ravel. Binns has concertized with major orchestras and conductors across the globe and performed on countless BBC radio broadcasts. He has made numerous recordings for such labels as Decca, Lyrita, Nimbus, and Hyperion.

Malcolm Binns was born in Nottingham, England, on January 29, 1936. From 1952-1956 he studied music at the Royal College of Music in London. Binns made his London debut in 1957 and the following year debuted at London's prestigious Wigmore Hall.

Binns played at his first Proms concert in 1960, and in 1961 he gave the British premiere of the Prokofiev Fourth Piano Concerto (for left hand) at Royal Festival Hall. In 1966 he branched out into regular chamber music performance when he formed a duo with violinist Manoug Parikian.

Binns' 1969 Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, on Classics for Pleasure, further demonstrated his considerable versatility in keyboard repertory. By the 1970s he was regarded among the leading British pianists, especially after the success of his pioneering Beethoven sonata cycle in 1977, the same year he also made acclaimed recordings of works by Medtner and Hummel.

Binns remained busy throughout the 1980s with a full schedule of recitals and solo appearances. He made an acclaimed tour with the (Royal) Scottish National Orchestra in 1988. Among Binns' more important recorded efforts was his 1990 traversal of William Sterndale Bennett's concertos Nos. 1-3 and 5, on Lyrita (No. 4 on Unicorn-Kanchana), generally regarded as landmarks in the revival of Bennett's music.

In 1996 Binns celebrated his 60th birthday with an acclaimed Chopin recital at Wigmore Hall. Binns has remained active in the new century: his 2007 two-disc set on British Music Society of works by Bax, Bridge, and Ireland was highly praised, as was his 2010 Chopin recital at Charlton Park in Canterbury, England.