Saturday, 12 March 2011

William Blezard: Three Dance Studies for piano

The Three Dance Studies were composed over a three year period between 1966 and 1969. I suppose the first thing I would say is that there is something of Children’s Television about these pieces. It is easy to imagine them being used for some puppet show or cartoon escapades. Perhaps it is hardly surprising when one recalls that Blezard served as an accompanist for Playschool!
The first dance is an exercise in octaves. I must confess to finding octaves difficult to play. I recall a pianist telling me that you have to lock your hand into position and keep it that way – otherwise major 7th and minor 9ths ensue! And I have heard good pianists fall into that trap! But Parkin avoids this misdemeanour here! The music is actually quite jazzy without being jazz –perhaps 'puckish' would be a better adjective.
The second ‘study’ is by far the longest and is also a lot more profound. The technical virtue here is the ‘trill.’ Perhaps this piece is less related to cartoon –in fact I believe it could easily have a life of its own. It is probably one of the best of Blezard’s pieces for piano. The mood is quite complex – trills do not necessarily suggest repose or reflection – yet some of this music is just that. There is a harsher and more dissonant middle section that sounds terrifying difficult to play. However the quieter music returns and all is well. The composer who sprang into mind on hearing this number was Kaikhosru Sorabji and I do not feel that is a bad comparison.
The last study is based on cross rhythms, which is basically music that has, say two and three beats to the bar. Of course Blezard is much more subtle that this and I would need to peruse the score to say much more about his compositional process. However this dance moves along with quite a swing and once again could be the accompaniment to some TV adventure. Not the best of the series, perhaps – but probably the hardest to bring off successfully.

William Blezard’s Three Dance Studies for piano can be heard on Eric Parkin’s recording on the Priory Label

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