Magazine article Gramophone

McCabe

Magazine article Gramophone

McCabe

Article excerpt

McCabe

'The Complete Piano Works, Vol 1'

Three Impromptus. Five Bagatelles. Paraphrase on 'Mary Queen of Scots'. Afternoons and Afterwards. Lamentation Rag. Snowfall in Winter. Tunstall Chimes. Epithalamium. Berceuse

Jane Ford pf

Prima Facie (F) PFCD054 (66' * DDD)

Stretching across more than half a century, the piano music of John McCabe (1939-2015) is an ideal way into one of the most substantial and consistent outputs from among post-war British composers, which Jane Ford can only be commended for tackling in its entirety.

This first volume focuses equally on miniatures and larger studies--with the former typified by Three Impromptus (1959) written for John Ogdon, emerging out of the most basic motifs, or Five Bagatelles (1964), which provide a pithy though never simplistic introduction to serial writing. More relaxed in content and expression, the seven pieces comprising Afternoons and Afterwards (1981) effortlessly bridge any supposed divide between didactic and 'real' music, as does that winsome 250th-anniversary tribute to Haydn which is Lamentation Rag (1982).

The remaining pieces form part of the series (rather than cycle per se) of Studies that occupied McCabe over 42 years. Paraphrase on 'Mary Queen of Scots' (1979) is a 'prelude and fugue' on themes from his ballet of that name, channelling the intimate then confrontational aspects of an eventful if tragic life, while Snowfall in Winter (2003) evokes a visit to Vilnius through its diaphanous textures and subtle dynamics. …

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