Musical Opinion

One month before receiving this CD for review I heard Sorabji’s Opus Clavicembalisticum complete at the Purcell Room played by Jonathan Powell… Although Stevenson’s piece lasts 75 minutes, it is almost epigrammatic against the approaching five hours of Sorabji’s Magnum Opus! Or Alistair Hinton’s String Quintet… These three vast works have much in common, especially the gift of inventing compelling music for the listener. Sorabji and Stevenson also display a revelatory understanding of the keyboard.

Stevenson’s work is a genuine Passacaglia on the famous four notes of Dmitri Shostakovich’s musical name. A passacaglia lasting an hour-and-a-quarter on just four notes seems impossible, but is both an astonishing compositional achievement and a deeply impressive emotional experience, notwithstanding the inclusion of some extraordinary, but always musical, keyboard effects, that carry the attentive listener from start to finish.

Murray McLachlan has known this work for more than 20 years and has studied it with the composer. The resultant CD is a considerable achievement in musical and sound-recording terms: a wonderful 75 th birthday present for the composer. Strongly recommended.

—Robert Matthew-Walker