THEN AGAIN: BRITISH PIANO MUSIC OF THE '80s AND
Colin TOUCHIN (b.1953) : Sonatella
Christopher BEST (b.1958) : Then Again
Robert RAMSKILL (b.1950) : Jazz Sonatina
Julian HELLABY (b.1956) : Medley on Jazz
Julian Hellaby (piano)
Recorded Warwick 1998
ASC CS CD39 [c.
Copies can be obtained from Julian Hellaby
JNHBY@compuserve.com for £9.00
Colin Touchin's Sonatella is a delightful piece in three short
sections written in a quite accessible, somewhat jazzy style. It was written
for Peter Donohoe, a friend of the composer, who played in duo with him and
who had written a piece for them. Thus, this enjoyable short piece is a small
tribute to return the favour.
Christopher Best's Then Again was commissioned by Julian Hellaby.
The composer tells us that. at the time of writing the piece, he was "preoccupied
with unifying his approach towards harmony, melody and form". This fairly
substantial work is in seven sections all sharing the same five note groupings,
thus providing a form of theme and variations, in all but name; hence the
title Then Again. The music is very colourful, accessible and jazzy, especially
so in the third section Presto. Quite enjoyable again.
Robert Ramskill's Jazz Sonatina of 1985 is exactly that. The
final Quodlibet, a "tongue-in-cheek medley of familiar tunes" (I must admit
that I only spotted British Grenadiers!), concludes this lovely short work
with a joyous light-heartedness.
Julian Hellaby, who is connected with these three composers and works,
ends this highly entertaining recital with his own Medley on Jazz
Standards. Expertly composed, fairly straightforward improvisations
on four well known jazz numbers: Misty (Garner), Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing),
That Old Devil Called Love (Fisher & Roberts) and that good ol' Ellington
classic 'Take The A Train'. Lighter music maybe, but quite enjoyable.
To sum-up, four composers who do not shy away from writing entertaining music
in an accessible, often jazzy idiom. Maybe no great masterpieces here, though
all these works are well crafted and may even be somewhat tricky to play.
They make-up for a really satisfying programme played with aplomb and panache
by Julian Hellaby. Try this and you will realise that contemporary music
can also give a lot of pleasure.