Echoes of Land & Sea: Piano music by Britten, Stevenson, Ireland, Roderick Williams, Leighton and Holst

Reviewed on Tue 19 Sep, 2017

What tingling hush and concentration Marchant brings to the concluding 'Night' from Britten's youthful Holiday Diary, and how deftly she showcases a sequence of six Holst piano works composed between 1924 and 1932.

There are gems aplenty in this sensitively played and wholly absorbing survey of British piano music. Maria Marchant brings both power and delicacy to Ronald Stevenson's marvellous 'Peter Grimes' Fantasy from 1971 (listen out for those magically ethereal, plucked piano strings towards the close). Likewise, Kenneth Leighton's masterly Six Studies (Study-Variations), Op 56 (1969), rivet the attention in their exhilarating technical prowess and harmonic resourcefulness (in No 2 listen out for thematic pre-echoes of the finale of the superb Organ Concerto completed the following year), while John Ireland's glitteringly evocative Ballade of London Nights (1930) also leaves a bracing impression here. The latter figure's indelible setting of John Masefield's Sea Fever is heard in an effective reworking for solo piano by Roderick Williams, whose own charming 2016 miniature, Goodwood by the Sea, proves another enjoyable discovery. Elsewhere, what tingling hush and concentration Marchant brings to the concluding 'Night' from Britten's youthful Holiday Diary, and how deftly she showcases a sequence of six Holst piano works composed between 1924 and 1932. The 73-minute programme concludes with a first recording for Holst's Brook Green Suite in the transcription by Vally Lasker (his assistant at St Paul's Girls' School). All told, a very fine release, comprehensively annotated by Robert Matthew-Walker, and truthfully engineered by Paul Arden-Taylor at Southampton's Turner Sims.
–Andrew Achenbach