Thursday, 11 June 2009

John McCabe: An English Recital

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872 - 1958) The Lake in the Mountains (1947) Hymn-Tune Prelude on 'Song 12' by Orlando Gibbons (1928) Suite of Six Short Pieces (published 1921) Gustav HOLST (1874 - 1934) Two Pieces for Piano (1930/2) Two Northumbrian Folk Tunes (1927) John IRELAND (1879 - 1962) Sonatina (1927) Arnold BAX (1883 - 1953) Allegretto quasi andante (1932) Peter WARLOCK (1894 - 1930) Five Folk-Song Preludes (1918) Ernest John MOERAN (1894 - 1950) Bank Holiday (1925) Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) Night Piece (1963) John JOUBERT (b. 1927) Dance Suite Op.21 (1958)
John McCabe (piano) BMS103CDH

Hubert Culot has recently reviewed this CD for MusicWeb International. Now I have not heard this recoding yet, but it is a no-brainer that it will soon be added to my collection. I have heard John McCabe play on a number of occasions and treasure my copy of him playing the Haydn Piano Sonatas.
Simply glancing at the track listing is enough to tell me that this is a great introduction to British Piano music – at least to some of the byways rather than the highways. There are a few pieces here which are ubiquitous, such as Moeran’s Bank Holiday and John Ireland’s Sonatina but much is little known and I guess will represented by precious few recordings. I think the John Joubert and the Peter Warlock as two prime candidates.

Culot opens his review by reminiscing. He notes that "all these works but two (Britten's Night Piece and Joubert's Dance Suite Op.21) have been available on a now long-deleted Decca Ace of Diamonds LP (SDD444) of which I still have a cherished and rather worn-out copy... That was a disc that I enjoyed listening to and I am now delighted to be able to review its latest reincarnation”. Like myself he is attracted to the rarities.

One interesting note. I wondered what the Arnold BAX ‘Allegretto quasi andante’ was. I could not place it in his repertoire of piano pieces. Culot solves the problem for me – Bax's Allegretto quasi andante is "actually the slow movement of his Fourth Piano Sonata, but stands remarkably well on its own because of its beautiful main theme".

After a brief outline of each piece he concludes by insisting that “This beautifully produced release is a timely tribute to John McCabe on his 70th birthday and a well-deserved homage to his unflagging dedication to British music.”

Please read Hubert Culot’s full review at MusicWeb International

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