Saturday, 26 January 2008

Alec Rowley: Outward Bound

This is one of my favourite sheet music covers. Of course, Alec Rowley wrote much piano music for educational purposes or for ‘younger’ pianists along with plenty that can be regarded as concert works. The Suite Outward Bound, is I would guess about Grade 4. However the musical imagery, the titles of the individual movements and of course the picture makes this work well worth digging out and giving it an occasional airing. And it is in the gift of amateur pianists! The first movement is a bold little ‘Chanty’ in 6/8 time. Then follows a bright hornpipe. Perhaps the heart of the work is the ‘Bosun’s Story.’ For a miniature this is actually quite a moving little piece: Rowley uses a variety of tempi and figurations to create the narrative. A ‘Sailor’s Song’ follows – much of it in unison. The Suite ends with a breezy ‘Jack Ashore’ which manifestly nods to ‘pranks’ when the ship is in dock. The piece and the suite end with a reflective two bar phrase.
Outward Bound was composed in 1922 and published by Winthrop Rogers Ltd. It is not possible to identify the name of the artist.

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