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CD Review

Roger Quilter

Complete Piano Works

  • Three Studies, Op. 4
  • Three Pieces, Op. 16
  • Two Impressions, Op. 19
  • Four Country Pieces, Op. 27
  • Where the Rainbow Ends (Suite)
David Owen Norris, piano
English Music Records EMR-CD-002 47min
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Roger Quilter was born in Hove on 1st November 1877 to a wealthy and upper class family. The fifth of seven children, he was sent to Eton with the intention of keeping him away from a musical career which at that time was unthinkable for someone of his class. Nevertheless, he managed to go to Frankfurt where he started studying the piano, and, like many other students, also took private composition lessons. On his return to England, he took up residence in London, and within a few years had published the songs that brought him to public attention, among which one finds the immensely popular "Love's Philosophy".

Quilter is better known for his songwriting, an art form he perfected and imbued with Edwardian nostalgia, but his piano accompaniments are indeed exquisite, and many consider them to be as good as piano solos in their own right.

In his solo piano music, which spans much of his composing career, it is as if he has taken the genre to the next level, and the programme on this superb issue is a strong testimony of Quilter's refined skills and wonderful imagery. All these miniature gems have something personal to say, and although the total playing time is, to say the least, lean, there are plenty of passionate, colourful and dance-like moments that make these piano pieces extremely attractive and inventive.

David Owen Norris is a dedicated advocate of Quilter's piano language and style, and his interpretations get under the skin of these compositions, revealing in the process the actual sound that the composer had in mind. An invaluable addition to the Quilter discography in excellent sound and presentation.

Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech