Musical Pointers

Just in time for Christmas comes this, one of the very most important and entertaining piano recordings of the year.

The prolific composer/pianist Ronald Stevenson (b. 1928) is a larger than life figure, redolent of bygone ages, ” one of the most original minds in the world of the composition of music “: Yehudi Menuhin.

An admirer of Golden Age pianism (I guess he has had little time for late 20 C “modernism”) he indulges in over-the-top elaborations, arrangements and transcriptions of famous music by his favourite composers, who extend to Alkan & Britten alongside Bach and Chopin. He does not distinguish amongst those activities and pushes their virtuoso masterworks to new complexities of counterpoint and pianistic demands, with mind-boggling originality and daring.

His friend and, I guess, equal as a piano wizard Murray McLachlan has added this triple-CDs set to his earlier account of the 80-mins magnum opus Passacaglia on DSCH , with which I became acquainted via John Ogdon in the ’60s [McLachlan’s version is on Divine Art dda 25013 ].

I guarantee that many of the multitude of tracks (e.g. Rimsky’s bumblebee and Chopin’s Study Op 10/2 played simultaneously !) will tickle the fancies of your holiday guests, and the collection as a whole will give lasting satisfaction.

What we need next, Stevenson’s music being so very visual, is a joint DVD from the composer and this interpreter.

—Peter Grahame Woolf