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CD: Tutti

 

Piano40
Brian CHAPPLE (b. 1945)
Burlesque (2000) [8:40]
Rory BOYLE (b. 1951)
All blether (2000) [6:51]
Richard NYE (b. 1967)
8 'Til Late (2001) [7:15]
Charles CAMILLERI (1931 - 2009)
Divertimento No.1 (1957, rev. 2000) [8:04]
Andrew PEGGIE
Octo-Paganini (2000) [8:58]
John PAYNTER (b. 1931)
Ouverture d'Urgence (2002) [5:51]
Cecilia MACDOWALL (b. 1951)
Piano Forty (2001) [8:10]
Piano40 (Jeremy Brown, Helen Cawthorne, Richard Deering, Nadia Lasserson (two pianos))
rec. St. George's Bristol, 26-27 October 2002
REGENT REGCD194 [56:32]
Experience Classicsonline

Originally known as the London Piano Quartet, Piano40 was formed to promote interest in the rather neglected medium of eight hands and two pianos. The group also commissioned a number of works from contemporary composers and the present selection is an example of each composer's approach to the medium.

Brian Chapple's Burlesque is a short suite unashamedly juxtaposing four highly contrasted movements, i.e. a mock-serious Intrada, a Spanish postcard, a nervous moto perpetuo and a 'big band' finale with clear jazzy flavour. All Blether by Rory Boyle, is also a moto perpetuo here based on rather limited material, albeit handled with resourcefulness and imagination. The music is also rhythmically complex and the whole amounts to what Richard Deering describes as 'mindless chatter'. This is actually quite suited to the Scottish word 'blether' which means 'to talk fluent garrulous nonsense'. Richard Nye's 8 'Til Late is a suite in three short movements 'inspired by the way people lead their lives'. The first movement is made of fragments darting to and fro without any apparent aim and likely to take unexpected turns. The second movement has the lulling, somewhat monotonous character of what Grainger might have called a 'humlet'. The final movement signals the end of the day in a mood of relaxation and entertainment and eventually a final dash for the last bus home.

Camilleri's Divertimento No.1 was originally composed for clarinet and piano and the present arrangement for two pianos/eight hands was made in 2000 for the London Piano Quartet as the ensemble was then known. This short, colourful work was composed as a homage to Manuel de Falla. The music eschews Spanish clichés or quotes from de Falla's music yet manages to evoke Spanish atmosphere.

Andrew Peggie's Octo-Paganini is a fantasy rather than a real set of variations on Paganini's famous Caprice - guess which. After a few forceful statements of the tune, the material of the Caprice is torn into pieces before being later reassembled in the jazzy coda.

The title of John Paynter's Ouverture d'Urgence is deliberately ambiguous for it may be understood as 'an overture urgently needed' or as 'emergency exit'. The music opens hesitatingly but quickly gathers momentum by way of a fairly complex fugal movement before reaching its exhilarating conclusion.

Cecilia McDowall's Piano Forty may well be the most serious work in this most attractive selection of works composed for Piano40. In its short time-span, the music explores a huge variety of moods expressed in almost orchestral colours until reaching its assertive conclusion.

This attractive and most enjoyable selection of works composed for Piano40 does not include any imperishable masterpieces. Even so, each work certainly deserves to be heard especially when played with such zest and obvious enjoyment. At the risk of repeating myself, this is a hugely entertaining release.

Hubert Culot
 
 


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