Wednesday, 22 April 2009

John Pitts: Seven Airs & Fantasias and other piano music

John PITTS (b. 1976) Changes for 20 nifty fingers; Toccata – Blue Frenzy; Air 1 – Gentle Interweaving; Fantasia 1- Clockwork 5/4; Air 2 – After Satie; Fantasia 2 – On the Westminster Chimes; Air 3 – On an anagram; Fantasia 3 – Parallel Octaves; Air 4 – Sarabande; Fantasia 4- Wind Chimes; Air 5 – Calmly Contented; Fantasia 5 – Bells in 9/8; Air 6 – Modal Twist; Fantasia 6 – Half-Second Hand; Air 7 – Cantabile Mist; Fantasia 7 – All in a Chord; Steven Kings (piano) CD.TP/IPM 08

I was recently sent this CD by the composer due to the fact that “a couple of years ago I reviewed a CD of music by the Severnside Alliance of Composers”.
In that recording I had been “particularly impressed with some piano pieces by John Pitts. I noted that his “music reminded me of Herbert Howells’ Lambert’s Clavichord; not in idiom so much as his ‘picking up’ an older style of keyboard composition and re-presenting it for our times”. I concluded by suggesting that “this is lovely music to listen to and shows a deep absorption of earlier styles but with a large degree of originality added for good measure.”

“John Pitts studied with a galaxy of teachers including John Casken, Robert Saxton and John Pickard. In 2003 he won the prestigious Philharmonia Orchestra Martin Musical Scholarship Fund Composition Prize: his Piano Quartet was performed by the Fidelio Quartet in the final stages of the competition at the Royal Festival Hall. Pitts is interested in composing for Christian worship and for the stage. He has written incidental music for a number of stage plays and two short operatic works – Crossed Wires and the strangely entitled 3 Sliced Mice! Other interests include working with the Bristol Savoy Operatic Society as a conductor and arranger”.

The music on this CD consists of a major cycle of piano music – the 7 Airs & Fantasias, which I believe is well worth regarding as an entity, and two additional pieces for good measure. After giving a fairly detailed review of each piece I concluded by noting that “the playing on this CD is both stunning and seriously impressive of standing on its own without a supporting commentary…”

I certainly look forward to watching John Pitts’s career with interest and certainly will be privileged to review any subsequent CDs if they are up to the compositional and performance standards of this one.

Please read my full review of this great CD at MusicWeb International

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