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CD Review

British Piano Sonatas

  • John White:
  • Sonata for Piano #1 (1956)
  • Sonata for Piano #5 (1959)
  • Sonata for Piano #4 (1959)
  • Sonata for Piano #9 (1960)
  • Alun Hoddinott: *
  • Sonata for Piano #1 Op. 17 (1959)
  • Sonata for Piano #2 Op. 27 (1962)
  • Nocturne #1 Op. 9 (1956)
  • Nocturne #2 Op. 16 #1 (1959)
  • Elegy Op. 18 #3 (1959)
Colin Kingsley, piano
* Valerie Tryon, piano
Lyrita REAM2108 2CDs mono 85m ADD
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Lyrita's inexhaustible British treasures seem to go on and on. This issue, dedicated to two of Britain's foremost piano composers, is one of the latest instalments to highlight the music of John White and Alun Hoddinott.

Born in Berlin in 1936, the former occupied many prestigious positions in renowned institutions such as the Royal College of Music and the Yehudi Menuhin School. He is currently Head of Music at the London Drama Centre. White is also an active trombonist and tuba player and he tours extensively as a piano recitalist. Among his huge output to date, the piano sonata genre is at the very forefront of his inspiration with 166 compositions and the four recorded here, although a tiny part of this immense achievement, are prime examples of his bouncy, eclectic style which explores the influences of such greats as Schumann, Liszt and Scriabin amongst others.

The music of Hoddinott (1929-2008) enjoys wider popularity than White's due to the fact that his language is perhaps more accessible and diverse. The 13 piano sonatas are his most important series of composition for solo instrument and in them Hoddinott's fascination with the keyboard and his constant pursuit of new approaches to sonata form are evident throughout.

The two Nocturnes and Elegy reveal the composer's natural ability to create "night music". Performances are wholly committed and both Kingsley and Tryon are passionate advocates of this rare repertoire. The sound quality does leave something to be desired but with performances of such stature, technical glitches are rather out of the equation.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech