The Peter Jacobs Anthology: 20th Century British Piano Music

MARTIN SHAW (1875-1958): Roundabouts, ARTHUR BLISS (1891-1975): Polonaise from Suite for Piano, WALTER LEIGH (1905-1942): Eclogue, JOHN MAYER (1930-2004). 3 pieces from Calcutta-Nagar, ROGER QUILTER (1887-1953): Summer Evening, MATYAS SEIBER (1905-1960): Scherzando Capriccioso, AMY WOODFERNE-FINDEN (1860-1919): Kashmiri Song, HERBERT HOWELLS (1892-1983): Procession, ARTHUR BENJAMIN (1893-1960): Scherzino, HUMPHREY SEARLE (1915-1982): Vigil (France 1940-1944), HUBERT PARRY (1848-1918): Scherzo in F, CYRIL SCOTT (1879-1970): Egyptian Boat Song, WILLIAM STERNDALE BENNETT (1816-1875): Presto Agitato in F Sharp Minor, RAYMOND WARREN (b.1928): Monody, WILLIAM BAINES (1899-1922): 7 Preludes, BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976): Moderato from Sonatina Romantica, RONALD STEVENSON (1928-2015): A Wheen Tunes for Bairns Tae Spiel, ARNOLD BAX (1883-1953): Winter Waters, TREVOR HOLD (1939-2004): Tango.

Catalogue Number: 12X053

Label: Heritage

Reference: HTGCD 159

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Peter Jacobs has been one of the British music scene's greatest assets for some four decades now, unearthing, performing and recording with consummate skill and sensitivity an extraordinary range of unjustly neglected repertoire. He has produced a body of work of inestimable value in the recording studio, with so many highlights that it is well-nigh impossible to pick and choose favourites, although his pioneering championship of the music of Harold Truscott (who might without exaggeration be described as the Robert Simpson of the piano [12V043]), Trevor Hold (08W050), and Frank Bridge (08W037) perhaps stand out as especially significant achievements in his unique and wide-ranging recorded repertory (see also 06V048, 06V043, and 01V036), which is all newly available thanks to Heritage's sterling efforts. (His three-volume survey of Chaminade on Hyperion is also a most valuable, and enjoyable, document.) This immensely attractive and varied recital is entirely typical of what Jacobs is all about. These pieces, many receiving their world première recordings and all of them sadly under-represented in concert and on disc, are all firmly grounded in tonality (quite adventurously so in a couple of cases), and thoroughly accessible and engaging. A huge range of style and expression is covered. Lively scherzo-like pieces ranging from Schumann-influenced little gems by Sterndale Bennett and Parry (demonstrating that the "Land ohne Musik" was nothing of the sort, and certainly not by 1904 when that ill-judged witticism was first uttered, while revealing the early influences on the English style) to Seiber's mercurial and unpredictable Scherzando capriccioso and Benjamin's impertinently playful Schrerzino, maintain a high entertainment quotient. But there are serious works of depth and drama here too, that belie their relative brevity; Searle's Vigil is a dark reflection from the years of WWII, beginning and ending with an obvious, eerily calm reference to Satie - the piece is dedicated to the French forces - rising to an intense and powerful climax, and dying away with desolate "bugles calling from sad shires". And Bax's Winter Waters: Tragic Landscape is a full-blown Romantic tone poem in miniature, all surging storm-tides and looming cliffs; entirely typical of the composer at his best. Howells' Procession, too, conjures up strong imagery; in this case a slightly menacing cortège in a Russian city (inspired by a dream) approaching and receding - you can hear the pealing bells, and the climax suggests the "Great Gate of Kiev". The English Romantic taste for the "exotic" is served by Scott's characteristically perfumed Egyptian Boat Song, and the voluptuous richness of Baines' harmonic language in his Preludes. A little-known, exquisitely crafted, neoclassically elegant, cogently argued sonata form movement from an abandoned Sonatina by Britten, Warren's efflorescing line of melody, and Bliss' rudely muscular Polonaise represent different approaches to the demands of the 20th century: Leigh and Quilter supply English pastoralism, and the lighter side is addressed by Woodforde-Finden's sentimentally lovely Kashmiri Song and Hold's elegantly playful Tango. Peter Jacobs (piano).

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