Magazine article Gramophone

Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH

Magazine article Gramophone

Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH

Article excerpt


Passacaglia on DSCH. Promenade pastorale. Waltzes. Fugue, Variations and Epilogue on a Theme by Arnold Bax. Nocturne (Homage to John Field). Variations on a Theme of Pizzetti. Sonatina No. 2

James Willshire pf

Delphian (M)(2) DCD34119 (141' * DDD)


Here we have the seventh commercially released recording of Ronald Stevenson's 1962 Passacaglia on DSCH, based on the four-note D-E flat-C-B natural pattern that spells out Shostakovich's initials, plus an hour's worth of previously unrecorded compositions. James Willshire's pianism often evokes Stevenson's own incisively sprung rhythms and sharp dynamic contrasts (the Fanfare towards the beginning of Part 2), along with the natural ebb and flow of his rubato. At the same time, Willshire's generalised articulation holds less interest in comparison to the character and specificity one finds elsewhere. Take, for example, the First Episode's opening upwards unison pianissimo scales in triplets, so literal and uneventful in Willshire's hands, next to the witty, rapier Murray McLachlan (Divine Art) and electrifyingly shimmering Raymond Clarke (Marco Polo). …

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