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Discover The Piano Music Alan Richardson

SRCD381
£10.99

Details

The Discover series of Mid Price CDs allow customers to explore some of our lesser known composers that feature as large multi disc box sets. Martin Jones selected works on this disc to include extended concert works, picturesque pieces, and short studies for educational use. Richardson’s complete works for piano are available on a 5CD set SRCD2373 and this is the first time that the Box Set and the single disc will be released at the same time. We hope that those who might feel reluctant to explore a five CD set may still be intrigued enough to Discover what some would describe as a CD Playlist.

Alan was a complete musician – a composer, performer, teacher, and a person of extraordinary natural musicality. Small wonder then that he was viewed with profound respect by all those within the musical profession who were privileged to come into contact with him . As a pianist one was struck by his innate rhythmic verve, a facet which indeed radiated through all his compositions – but perhaps the quality above all else that will be remembered was that which can best be described as a mezzo voce bel canto, the realisation of a choice and refined ear, and the product of a deep thinker and inner tranquillity’. It is that satisfying synergy of elegant lyricism and rhythmic energy which distinguishes the keyboard works of pianist and composer Alan Richardson. After the WWII he gave piano lectures at the RAM and in 1960 he was appointed professor of piano at the Academy. The following year he married the oboist Janet Craxton, daughter of Harold Craxton, himself a distinguished professor at the RAM. This happy personal and musical union resulted in the formation of a duo partnership of great distinction. [Paul Conway]

Also Available: SRCD2373 Complete Piano Music of Alan Richardson 5 CD Set

Discover The Piano Music Alan Richardson

Reviews

Alan Richardson’s name has been largely forgotten, alas; he was unquestionably one of the most important teachers and advocates for music education Britain produced in the twentieth century. Edinburgh-born, he found work as a house accompanist with the BBC there in his early twenties, before studying at the Royal Academy and with the celebrated pedagogue Harold Craxton, whose fondly remembered oboist daughter Janet would become Richardson’s wife more than thirty years later. He continued his work as a much-coveted accompanist and chamber musician over the next couple of decades, while teaching at the Academy and acting as a humane and encouraging examination adjudicator. Lyrita seem to have issued this single disc to act as a ‘taster’ for their five disc survey of Richardson’s piano music (released simultaneously); it is this genre that absolutely dominates his output. The compilation includes a few stand-alone miniatures, some bleeding chunks – excerpts from larger collections and some educational/training pieces.

The two most substantial complete ‘opuses’ on this album date from Alan Richardson’s mid-fifties, and amply demonstrate both the strengths and limitations of his music. The Three Pieces for Shura Cherkassky, of 1959, reveal at once Richardson’s seemingly innate gift for crafting perfectly formed piano music, here of a more overtly virtuosic cast than most of his oeuvre. The opening Tableau’ is appealingly jaunty, set in whirls and cascades of high-flung piano sound; it certainly goes off in some unexpected modulatory directions, while ‘Silver Nights’ is a more conventionally designed nocturne. The final piece is more substantial, a ‘Fantasy Study’ whose passage work and harmonic progressions strongly suggest Prokofiev. These sturdy, idiomatic pieces all seem to sit comfortably under the experienced Martin Jones’ nimble fingers, and epitomise the sound of British piano music of the time.

The Sonatina which emerged the following year nods towards Ravel in its agreeable opening Allegro, while the central Lento Moderato has something of that composer’s Pavane pour une infante défunte and Le tombeau de Couperin about it, before a concluding Vivace which seems more indebted to baroque or even earlier models.

The rather ambiguous Lento piacevole piques one’s curiosity enough to want to hear the rest of Richardson’s Sonata No 2 from 1967; it melds dark Satie-like chords with a tentative and strange dance-like episode. There is a delightful free transcription of the famous Minuet from Boccherini’s E major quintet, Op 11 No 5 (the one ‘not’ performed by the rogues in the immortal Ealing comedy The Ladykillers) – the tune is expertly and imaginatively disguised in an extended introduction which is splendidly conceived in terms of the instrument. The other transcription here, of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, is affectionate but lacks the individuality of the Boccherini arrangement. On Heather Hill is an attractive and very British sounding miniature for two pianos; yet it is undeniably of its time.

Martin Jones is, as always an estimable and clearly enthusiastic guide to this repertoire, while the Lyrita piano sound is of a very high order. British music and Lyrita die-hards will want this disc, and it may well tempt some to invest in the five disc Richardson survey. Hats off to the label in any case for keeping a good man’s name and legacy alive. MusicWeb-International