Musical Opinion

This is a very worthwhile disc in each of the four categories that make an album desirable: choice of repertoire, performance, technical quality of recording and documentary presentation. Apart from Holst’s Japanese Suite, which is better known, if at all, in the orchestral version, the rest of the music here is but little known, yet all of it is eminently worthwhile, and some works, notably Kenneth Leighton’s, are truly impressive.

The earliest is Holst’s suite, recorded here for the first time for two pianos, a version which may have been made by Vally Lasker, although the details are uncertain in this regard. The shortest, somewhat surprisingly, are the fascinating Two Chinese Folk-Songs by Ronald Stevenson, from 1966, in marked contrast to his vast Passacaglia on DSCH, which Murray McLachlan has recorded on Divine Art 25013, for they last less than five minutes overall.

We have three works by the excellent composer Anthony Hedges, his very successful 1974 Piano Sonata, here played by Anthony Goldstone, and the Five Aphorisms and Three Explorations from 1990 and 2002, played by Caroline Clemmow, each of which receive admirable performances. Perhaps the most impressive work of all in this collection is the Prelude, Hymn and Toccata for two pianos, opus 96, by Kenneth Leighton, written in 1987, the year before his death. This is a masterly score of no little stature, and the performance is most compelling. This CD is strongly recommended.

—Robert Matthew-Walker