Albums

 

 

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*Includes world premiere recordings*

 

"In Volume 4, Christopher Guild has included transcriptions of opera and a variety of songs, both ‘popular’ and ‘art’ and a single original work. A paradigm for appreciating Ronald Stevenson’s music is to understand that his style is an amalgam of Scottish inspiration (despite the fact that he was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1928), a profound understanding of contemporary Western musical developments as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of indigenous music from around the world. Importantly, Stevenson was equally at home in making transcriptions of other composers' music as he was in producing original scores. There is no genre or style of music that was beneath him....  Christopher Guild has taken all these pieces to his heart... He has a clear understanding of, and sympathy with, Ronald Stevenson’s eclectic musical style. The booklet essay, as always, is helpful, interesting and informative. It is written by the present pianist." - MusicWeb International

Volume 4 in this ongoing series exploring Ronald Stevenson's piano works begins a 'mini-survey' of pieces whose inspiration is the human voice.  L'Art Nouveau du chant applique au piano takes its leave from Thalberg's large collection of pieces under the umbrella title of a similar name: it features transcriptions of songs and opera arias, including those by Meyerbeer, Rachmaninov, Ivor Novello, Samuel Coleridge Taylor and Stephen Foster among others.  Original music by Stevenson also features.  An extract from his Suite from Paderewski's Manru was featured in Spotify's Classical Top Picks in February 2020, the month of the album's release.

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

 

"I cannot fault the brilliant playing by Christopher Guild. He clearly has a great sympathy for Ronald Stevenson’s eclectic musical style. The playing is always luminous, often moving and never sentimental. The liner notes, written by the pianist are excellent. They present a major essay length discussion of the music and composer, complete with useful footnotes." - MusicWeb International

This album follows on directly from Volume 2 in that the latter presented music which took its leave from the old Celtic nations: Volume 3 goes a little further afield and draws on music from non-Western cultures.  Percy Grainger is, however, the overarching influence on all the works here.  The opening track, African Twi-Tune, is a hymn to unity and brotherhood composed in Apartheid-era South Africa.  Grainger's Hill Song No.1 appears in Stevenson's transcription for solo piano.  And a number of folk-music settings are presented on recording for the first time: Bonny At Morn, the Chinese Folk Song Suite, and the Ghanaian Folk Song Suite - an excerpt of the latter was featured in Spotify's Classical Top Picks February 2019.

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

 

"That Stevenson was a great transcriber is abundantly demonstrated not only in Rory Dall Morrison’s Harp Book but also in the Hebridean Seascape, which reimagines the slow movement of Frank Merrick’s Second Piano Concerto, a colouristic tour de force, vibrantly brought to life by Guild….  Guild provides his own compelling notes and he ends with a recording premiere, the touching Lament for a Blind Harper, movingly played." - Harriet Smith, Gramophone, May 2017

This is the second volume in a projected, multi-disc series dedicated largely to the unrecorded (and, often, unperformed) work of Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson.  Following on from the success of Volume 1 (below), this explores Stevenson's Scottish roots further by presenting transcriptions of Scottish folk song and works by other composers (including Frank Merrick and Savourna Stevenson), alongside original works such as the Carlyle Suite. 

Previews.

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

"The Scottish pianist Christopher Guild inaugurates a new series of recordings of Stevenson’s works with a vividly played and recorded program centred on music derived from and influenced by folk songs." - Matthew Guerrieri, Boston Globe, April 2015

Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015) was one of the last links we had in the 21st century with that golden age of pianism, where performance was largely inseparable from composition: a time where pianists were composers and performers equally, and where creativity and subjectivity 'in the moment' often reigned supreme. Stevenson's correspondence with the likes of Percy Grainger and even Jean Sibelius is invaluable, as are his links with Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears, and Shostakovich - all of whom he knew personally.  He is, without doubt, the foremost living authority on Ferruccio Busoni.

The wonderful thing about Stevenson, aside from being an extraordinary pianist in his own right (there are some rare recordings out there on the dormant Altarus label which are really worth discovering), is what he has done for the Western Art Music tradition of Scotland: not only in his Graingeresque treatments of the country's folk music, but in how he has fused the vernacular with his own distinctive voice.  This CD is a great introduction to all of that, surveying folk song transcriptions, original works taking their leave from Scottish and Irish musical idioms both secular and sacred - and, something equally important to Stevenson, music for young people to play.

 

Previews.

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

"There are intimations of the percussive spikiness of Prokofiev, the folk idioms and harmonies of Bartok, the simplicity of Poulenc, the wit and humour of Shostakovich, and the sensuality and stately parallel harmonies of Claude Debussy... Hints of Scottish airs make intriguing appearances in the music, reminding us of the composer’s heritage..." 

Frances Wilson, Cross-Eyed Pianist

 

It almost seems incredible that Ronald Center (1913-73) languished in obscurity for his whole life, considering what a powerful emotional punch his music packs.  From Aberdeenshire, Centre quietly composed whilst keeping up work as a music teacher, as well as coaching local choirs and occasionally partnering his Soprano wife, Evelyn Morrison, in BBC Radio Scotland Broadcasts.  Among his students were James Naughtie (Today, BBC R4) and the late pianist and professor of the Birmingham Conservatoire, Joyce Findlay.

 

The corpus of piano music is easily the best representation of his formidable gifts as a (self-taught - no conservatoire training) composer, but worth seeking out are his numerous choral works, which are deeply moving.

 

With sincere thanks and gratitude to the National Library of Scotland for providing access to the manuscripts of many of the works presented here.
 

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

Grigori Frid (1915-2012) is one of the many composers who lived and worked behind the Iron Curtain who the West is ony now beginning to hear about.  Frid's extremely long life took in the entire history of the Soviet Union, and thus he experienced almost every major historical event of the 20th century.  Violist Elena Artamonova is an authority on Russian music, particularly that for the viola, and introduced me to this music which at times is overwhelmingly powerful.  This album also includes a tribute to Frid by his former pupil, Alexander Vustin.  

Almost every work on this album is appearing on record for the very first time (save for an analogue recording of Sonata No.1 made in the Soviet Union during the 1960s): thus, it is safe to say that this makes the project vital in filling a hole in the history of Russian music.

 

*Includes world premiere recordings*

Diana Galvydyte and I first collaborated as Park Lane Group Young Artists in 2011, and together have maintained a keen interest in exploring the unknown.  This album was actually recorded in honour of Diana's victory at the Windsor String Competition in 2010, and we have here works largely by lesser-known composers of the Baltic countries, including her native Lithuania.  We also explored two works by James Macmillan, one new commission from Italian composer Joe Schittino, and solo works by Huw Watkins and Esa-Pekka Salonen.  The album was awarded 4 stars in the November 2012 edition of BBC Music Magazine.
 

Out of stock.

 

© 2020 Christopher Guild.

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