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Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988)
Four Romantic Pieces Op. 95 (1987) [21:29]
Sonata for Four Hands Op. 92 (1984-85) [21:18]
Kenneth Leighton (Opp. 92, 95); Colin Kingsley (Op. 92)
rec. Wigmore Hall, Nov 1987, Feb 1988. AAD

This is an issue of commanding interest if you value the landscape of piano solo music created in the British Isles during the post-war period.

Leighton is no pastoralist. He is tougher combining two inimical voices - he studied with both Finzi and Petrassi. There are three symphonies (one is available on Chandos) and ten concertos including three piano concertos. The end result in the Op. 95 set is a work that picks up on the writing of Bartók, judiciously accented with dissonance and with tributaries feeding in from blues, jazz and Rachmaninov; some might even think of Kapustin from time to time. The three movement Sonata starts and ends in with the sort of insistent bell-clear writing we encounter from Martinů in his Toccata e Due Canzoni touching obsessively on the depths plumbed by Britten's Grimes Passacaglia. This is again challengingly attractive music with jazzy infusions - back to Kapustin again. In the finale I was reminded of the more insistent romantically flourishing music in Bliss's Piano Concerto.

The notes by Paul Spicer provide all the essential information.

Being able to buy this certainly justifies joining the BMS.

This is extremely impressive music. I would not want anyone to be in any doubt about this and the performances could hardly be more authoritative.

The disc insert warns that the master reel-to-reel tape had deteriorated by the time the transfer came to be made. Be reassured I could hear nothing to worry you. The sound is stable, without wow and warmly centred.

Rob Barnett

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