JOHN MCCABE (b.1939): For Piano Four Hands: Upon Entering a Painting, 2 Scenes from "Edward II", Basse Danse, Gaudi for Solo Piano (Study No. 3), Sonata (Study No. 12) for Solo Piano.
Catalogue Number: 04N082
Reference: QTZ 2088
Description: Given his long and distinguished career as pianist, it is probably true that McCabe's piano music has not received the attention it deserves because of the old excuse that 'he can play it himself if he wants'. That's a pity, because music this strong, idiomatic and original, bearing the hallmarks of the complete composer-pianist, is not all that common, and one would think it would be welcomed by performers. McCabe's idiom is tonal, not unadventurously so, and comparisons with Stevenson, Alan Bush and Tippett are apt (though his piano writing is far more adept than the latter!), and sometimes also a nonfunctional approach to harmony that lies somewhere on the continuum from impressionism to Messiaen. Painting is an homage to Rothko, combining something of the monumental presence of he canvases with the teeming activity within brush-strokes on the microscopic level; for some reason (not elaborated in the booklet) it persistently alludes to the Dies irae. The two solo Studies are tributes to the architect Antoni Gaudí and Tippett, respectively, and suggest the sculptural forms writ large of the one and the restless dynamism of the other in quarter-hour pieces of considerable substance and inventive keyboard virtuosity. Joseph Tong, Waka Hasegawa (piano).