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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

 

Dunelm Records

 

Ronald STEVENSON (b. 1928)
Rhapsody: Lyric music of Ronald Stevenson
Three Lyric Pieces (1947–50) 
(Vox Stellarum (1947) [5:01]; Chorale Prelude for Jean Sibelius (1948) [6:01]; Andante sereno (1950) [5:31])
Three Nativity Pieces (1949): (Gold: Children’s March [3:56]; Frankincense: Arabesque [6:30]; Myrrh: Elegiac Carol [4:34])
Symphonic Elegy for Liszt (1986) [14:15]
A Carlyle Suite (1995) 
(Aubade (Morning Song) [2:01]; Souvenir de Salon: Jane Welsh Carlyle listens to Chopin [6:42]; Variations – Study in historical styles on a theme by Frederick the Great Theme (8 bars) & I. In Baroque style [0:46]; II. In Rococo style [0:47]; III. In Romantic style [0:43]; IV. In Impressionist style [1:17]; V. Expressionist style [2:07]; VI. Sketch for a new classicality [1:36]; Scherzino – Schottische : Jeannie’s Wit [1:17]; Serenade (Evening Song) [1:58])
Scottish Folk Music Settings for Piano (c.1959-65) 
(
2. Waly, waly [2:55]; 3. A rosebud by my Early Walk [2:18]; 8. The Hielan Widow’s Lament [2:12]; 9. Hard is my fate [2:56]; 10. Ne’erday Sang [2:56])
Sheena Nicoll (piano)
rec. The Whiteley Hall, Chethams School of Music, Manchester, 19-20 April 2006
DUNELM RECORDS DRD0268
[78:18]

 

More of Stevenson’s piano music now finds its determined way onto CD and it’s in safe hands.

The Three Lyric Pieces are early works. Vox stellarum strikes slow motion incandescence off the conflicting harmonies while the Chorale Prelude for Jean Sibelius is sombre and bell-grumblingly dark. The final Andante Sereno is peppery yet thoughtful.

Also early is the set of Three Nativity Pieces with a gawky limping march full of character, a crystal-glinting waltz with a slow liquid scintillation and a regretful Pierrot carol.

The Symphonic Elegy for Liszt is deeply serious and at its climax rings out in granitic majesty - a tipping point between Hungarian song and Highlands Gaelic. Erik Chisholm would have loved this.

The Carlyle Suite was written for this soloist who at the time lived in Ecclefechan, Thomas Carlyle’s birthplace. It is in eight movements incorporating a set of variations. There’s a grave aubade, a lyrically-loaded Souvenir de Chopin subtitled Jane Welsh Carlyle listens to Chopin. The Scherzino plays wittily with the shrouds of what sounds like a chuckling romantic song from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The sun sets into a glimmering twilight which rather like the Vox Stellarum sometimes recalls the astral-encrusted firmaments of Urmis Sisask.

The Scottish folk music settings are delicate yet durably strong. The composer’s hallmark is there: an interplay between chiming melody in the high register and an almost suave velvety level of activity in the bass. Melody is to the fore as so often with Stevenson and always presented with a subtle yet never effete poetry.

The liner notes are by Stevenson’s friend and evangelising scholar Colin Scott-Sutherland who edited the book on Ronald Stevenson - The Man and His Music (see review).

This is a finely documented disc and the booklet has been well designed.

This is music that predominantly wheels in a kaleidoscope of constant slow motion amid velvet-buffered gentle dissonances.

Rob Barnett

Other Stevenson reviews:

Songs:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/May03/ae_gowden.htm

DSCH:
Gasser: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Apr01/stevenson.htm
McLachlan: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/Mar04/stevenson_DSCH.htm

String quartet:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2003/Nov03/Bodorova_Stevenson.htm

Piano Music of Scotland:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/dec98/scott.html
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/dec98/scottish.html


 



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