RONALD STEVENSON (1928-2015): Piano Music, Vol. 2 - A Carlyle Suite, Rory Dall Morison’s Harp Book*, 3 Scottish Ballads, 3 Scots Fairy Tales, FRANK MERRICK (1886-1981): Hebridean Seascape (transcr. Stevenson), SAVOURNA STEVENSON (b.1961): Lament for a Blind Harper (transcr. Stevenson).
Catalogue Number: 03S062
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0388
Description: This very welcome release further expands our understanding of this fascinatingly multifaceted composer-pianist, concentrating on his deep connection to Scots history, culture and folk traditions. Stevenson is widely, and rightly, associated with transcendental pianism and philosophical depth - à la his 'mentor in absentia', Busoni - but this recital highlights his gifts as miniaturist, in a lighter, less pianistically formidable vein. The partial exception to this is his masterly transcription of the slow movement of the second Piano Concerto of his friend and colleague Frank Merrick, a composer well overdue for a revival of his own. This atmospheric seascape abounds in brilliantly conceived piano-orchestration of the highest order. Stevenson's love of and skill at transcription informs his suite from the collection of music by the 'blind harper', which preserves the character of the clàrsach, the Celtic small harp. The Carlyle Suite pays homage to the Scots philosopher and writer in a series of loosely connected pieces with some degree of connection to Carlyle's life and times, centered on a series of lighthearted variations on a theme by Frederick the Great (the subject of one of Carlyle's major literary works). The Scottish Ballads (now almost in danger of becoming popular repertoire); three children's pieces, apparently designed to enthuse the young pianist as much by Scottishness as by pianism; and Stevenson's reworking of a clàrsach piece by his daughter, a renowned performer on the instrument, round out this appealing disc. Christopher Guild (piano).