Members [of the Music Teachers’ Association] will recognise Trevor Barnard by his articles on piano technique that appear from time to time in this magazine, and you may also remember my review of his “Practical Guide to Solo Piano Music” as well as reviews of other recordings. This disc is an excellent teaching resource containing as it does a variety of works stretching from Bach (Two-part Invention no. 1) to the contemporary era with the latest work written in 1997. Harmonically, the works also show a progression across the centuries from the tonal to the atonal.
Representative 19 th century composers include Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Beethoven, Grieg, Rachmaninov and Debussy, Not being a particular lover o Chopin’s works, I found myself totally enchanted by Barnard’s clean, dramatic performance of the Op. 40 no. 1 Polonaise , a work usually inadequately over-performed by zealous students. Moving to the 20 th century, Bartok is represented with two Mikrokosmos works – including an exciting rendition of the Bulgarian Dance – and Albeniz with that popular Tango. The blues character of Gershwin’s second Prelude speaks for itself.
The works of six Australian composers are included: Michael Bertram, Nigel Butterrley, Tim Dargaville, Peter Sculthorpe, Felix Werder and Margaret Sutherland.
The Sutherland works (Chorale Preludes Herzliebster Jesu and Jesu meine Freude ) were ones I personally discovered during post-graduate research years ago and I am delighted to see them included here as they are rarely recorded. Barnard’s performance of Sculthorpe’s popular 1954 Sonatina is clean and crisp, in keeping with the composer’s intentions and the stark nature of the music.
Barnard is a careful craftsman yet has the ability to retain the musicality and sensitivity required to demonstrate the disparate styles that encompass the rage of works chosen for this disc, several of which appear on the AMEB syllabus. Overall, this is a varied microcosm of piano writing, and whilst most of these works will be familiar to teachers they are here interpreted and performed by a master. Highly recommended.