Saturday, 31 July 2010

Richard Stoker: Regency Suite Op.15

Richard Stoker's Regency Suite Op.15. was composed over a number of years during the 1950s. It is actually a composite work - with a number of pieces being mined to produce what is in many ways an attractive work.
The opening 'Scherzo' - almost a little toccata, in fact, is supposedly based on Picasso line drawings and circus paintings. It was the last piece to be completed for this suite. It is full of little figurations and has a definite and deliberate chaos of tonality. The following 'Minuet' on the other hand was written when the composer was yet a boy. It is quite a concentrated little piece complete with cunning key changes at the cadences. I wondered if it was worked over by Stoker for this suite, as it seems to fit perfectly into the prevailing style. Again the tonality is very free- one almost feels that there is a little tone row somewhere amongst the rather sweet tune.
The 'Pastoral Andante' was written in 1958. It is perhaps quite a desolate landscape the composer is reflecting on. Perhaps it is nearer the moors above Huddersfield or the strange country around Spurn Point rather than the smiling fields near York.
The 'Gigue' is a rather fun piece. Lots of contrast and a few sequences, ties this nicely into the old-fashioned feel to the work. The oldest piece of music is the 'Gavotte', composed when Stoker was a mere 14 years old. Yet it is a piece that deserves to be preserved. Absolutely perfect here. The last piece is a 'Toccata' and it is apparently very dear to the composer. A fine finish. There is an interesting little bit of musical history here- apparently the Gavotte and the Minuet were given their first Broadcast Performance on the BBC Home Service in 1953 - by none other than Violet Carson - later to become famous as Ena Sharples in Coronation Street. I never knew she was a pianist.
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The Regency Suite can be found on Priory PRCD 659 played by Eric Parkin

1 comment:

Paul Brownsey said...

I believe Violet Carson was for many years the pianist on Wilfred Pickles' long-running radio programme, "Have A Go." (And I wonder which british composer wrote the theme tune?)