Magazine article Gramophone

Piano Works by Stevenson and His Compositional Heroes

Magazine article Gramophone

Piano Works by Stevenson and His Compositional Heroes

Article excerpt


Stevenson Prelude and Chorale (An Easter Offering). L'art nouveau du chant applique au piano. Scottish Ballad No 1, 'Lord Randal'. Fugue on a Fragment of Chopin. Pensees sur des Preludes de Chopin. Variations-Study on a Chopin Waltz. Etudette d'apres Korsakov et Chopin. Three Contrapuntal Studies on Chopin Waltzes. Le festin d'Alkan: Concerto for Solo Piano. Norse Elegy. Canonic Caprice on 'The Bat'. Melody on a Ground of Glazunov. Ricordanza di San Romerio (A Pilgrimage for Piano). Little Jazz Variations on Purcell's'New Scotch Tune'. Two Music Portraits. Three Elizabethan Pieces after John Bull JS Bach Komm, susser Tod, BWV478 Mozart Fantasia, K608. Piano Concerto No 20, K466--Romanze Purcell Three Grounds. Toccata. Hornpipe. The Queen's Dolour (A Farewell) Ysaye Sonatas--No 1; No 2 (all arr Stevenson)

Murray McLachlan pf

Divine Art (M) (3) DDA21372 (3h 37' * DDD)

This latest issue follows up Murray McLachlan's recording of Ronald Stevenson's most celebrated work, his monumental Passacaglia on DSCH, which has been claimed to be the longest single work for solo piano. These three well-filled CDs concentrate instead on a generous selection of the other solo piano music of this Scottish-based composer-pianist, most of it directly inspired by his favourite predecessors, JS Bach, Mozart and Chopin, all of them formidable executants.

The first CD opens with pieces inspired by Bach. The contrapuntal writing is angular but clear and purposeful, as it is too in the two volumes of what Stevenson calls L'art nouveau du chant applique' au piano. Later on in the disc comes the intriguing Fugue on a Fragment of Chopin which, like 10 other Chopin-inspired pieces, sounds nothing like Chopin but very much like Stevenson.

The second disc offers longer pieces, starting with Le festin d'Alkan which, echoing that eccentric master, he describes as a concerto for piano without orchestra. The first movement gets wilder and wilder, very much a fun piece, while the second is light, with repeated notes, beautifully articulated by McLachlan. The third movement opens with the hint of a march leading to fistfuls of wild chords. After that come two ingenious transcriptions of two of the six solo violin sonatas of Ysaye. Stevenson, in a burst of energy, transcribed all six, and one would like to hear more of them. Lastly come the aptly melancholy Norse Elegy and the Canonic Caprice on the 'Carnival of Venice', light and attractive, if phenomenally difficult for the player. …

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