Colour and Light: 20th-Century British Piano Music – Alwyn: Twelve Preludes; Peter Dickinson: Paraphrase II; Delius: Nocturne; Margot la Rouge; Lutyens: The Ring of Bone; Anthony Herschel Hill: Litany; Toccata

Reviewed on Wed 29 May, 2019

Espousing a variety of contrasting and complementary moods and styles, surprising connections crop up throughout in this intelligent exercise in cross-fertilisation.

Nathan Williamson follows his admirable traversal of Great American Sonatas on SOMM (reviewed 5 May 2017) with Colour and Light, a fascinating compendium of 20th-century British piano music. Especially pleasing is his sensitive stitching together of music spanning the century from the distinctive harmonies of Delius to the idiomatic signature of Anthony Herschel Hill (whose mysterious Litany and Mephistophelian Toccata draw eloquent attention to a composer deserving of greater investigation). Espousing a variety of contrasting and complementary moods and styles, surprising connections crop up throughout in this intelligent exercise in cross-fertilisation: the serialist accent of Elisabeth Lutyens’s desiccated The Ring of Bone seemingly anticipated by Alwyn’s poetically pensive Twelve Preludes; the duet from Delius’s Margot la Rouge finding disguised kinship with Peter Dickinson’s intricately constructed Paraphrase II. But it’s the nuanced deliberation of Williamson’s fleet, felt playing, by turns concentrated and free (supported by his excellent booklet notes and a well-framed recording) that add interest to this agreeable and satisfying release.
–Michael Quinn