plays RONALD STEVENSON Vol.1
KENNETH HAMILTON, Piano
Prima Facie PFCD050 / ****1/2
Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015) was one of Scotland's greatest musical treasures, a larger-than-life figure in the mould of Franz Liszt (West Linton near Edinburgh was his Weimar), and musical heir to pianist-composers like Ferruccio Busoni and Percy Grainger.
Described to be “incapable of writing a genuinely easy piano piece”, this recital album by his disciple Kenneth Hamilton is an excellent introduction to his contrapuntally complex yet accessible style. Not a single note is superfluous or wasted.
Of the three major works here, best-known is his Peter Grimes Fantasy, where themes from Benjamin Britten's opera are pithily compacted into 8 minutes, much like in Busoni's Carmen Fantasy. Beltane Bonfire, inspired by a Scottish folk festival, is both fugal and virtuosic, a competition showpiece. The monumental Symphonic Elegy For Liszt superficially resembles a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody, but with distinct Scottish accents.
Stevenson is also shown as an effective miniaturist in his arrangements of Scottish ballads and Elizabethan dances, while his transcriptions of Ivor Novello's We'll Gather Lilacs and Richard Tauber's My Heart And I are so luscious as to be almost decadent. Hamilton cleverly throws in Rachmaninov's own Lilacs just to prove the point. A revelatory and enriching listen beckons.
KENNETH HAMILTON Piano Recital
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Esplanade Recital Studio, 7.30 pm
STEVENSON Three Scottish Ballades
CHOPIN Sonata No.3
ALKAN By the Waters of Babylon
MERRICK-STEVENSON Hebridean Seascape
DEBUSSY L'isle joyeuse
LISZT Deux Legendes
Tickets at $32 available at SISTIC
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