PHILIP RAMEY (b.1939): Piano Music, Vol. 4 - Sonatas No. 3 and No. 7, Incantations, Cossack Variations, 3 Early Preludes, Epigrams, Book 2, Lament for Richard III.
Catalogue Number: 04O071
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0153
Description: The Variations are based on a straightforward, tonal theme that the composer found on a Russian postcard. Initially this is treated in a direct fashion, but successive variations increasingly fragment the theme and add dissonant harmonies, clusters and a wealth of obscuring virtuosic figuration, before returning to a more literal treatment of the theme for a final peroration. The sonatas make an interesting contrast; the 1968 Third was an essay in dodecaphony and atonality, dissonance and in the toccata-finale, rough-hewn barbarism, albeit at the service of a sweeping romantic impulse and expressiveness throughout. It failed to achieve performance at the time of composition and was all but suppressed by the composer until he revised it for the present recording. The Seventh (2010-11), in common with Ramey's other works of more recent decades - including the 1986 Epigrams - admits a good deal more tonal, triadic harmony; although the music is unquestionably modern, it is less aggressively modernist than the earlier work. Of the smaller works, the earliest pre-date the composer's atonal experimentation, reflecting the influence of Prokofiev, and the 2001 Lament is a multifaceted character study, abounding in dramatic pianistic gestures. Stephen Gosling (piano).