The Piano Music of Anthony Burgess
- 14th December 2015
- Foundation News
We are delighted to announce the launch of a new recording of Anthony Burgess’s music.
Containing 33 of Burgess’s works for piano, the album contains pieces from the 1950s to the 1980s. While more and more of Anthony Burgess’s music is being performed in Manchester and around the world, almost none of it is available to listen to. This collection of Burgess’s piano music is a valuable introduction to a very important part of his work, and can be purchased from all good retailers and online here.
The album includes Six Preludes, which are some of Burgess’s earliest surviving substantial solo piano compositions and date from the 1960s; Burgess later used the main themes in a full-scale piano concerto, and the pieces are characteristic of Burgess’s distinctive style, with strong emphasis on fourths and metrical ambiguity. Brief Suite in A is a later set of pieces, again in six movements, which begin with very complex harmony but end up being very accessible and simple. The whole thing is a light homage to Bach, and later Burgess was to compose a fuller homage in a complete cycle of 24 preludes and fugues called The Bad-Tempered Electronic Keyboard, another feat of productivity that is highly unusual in the repertoire. And the occasional pieces include a lullaby called Wiegenlied, which dates from 1952 and is perhaps the oldest surviving complete work for solo piano and shows Burgess’s blending of traditional harmony and modernist experimentation at this early point in his compositional career.
The music is performed by Richard Casey, who is one of the world’s leading performers of Burgess’s music: Richard has played many of Burgess’s chamber works, including the world premiere of his Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, which took place on Remembrance Sunday at the Imperial War Museum; and also Burgess’s setting of TS Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, which received its European premiere in Manchester in 2014.
After winning the British Contemporary Piano Competition Richard has had a solo career as a concert pianist that has taken him all over the world, and he has complemented this work with a commitment to chamber music. He has been pianist with the New Music Players for many years, and has performed frequently as a guest with the London Sinfonietta, the Composers’ Ensemble, and the Liverpool-based Ensemble 10:10. Richard was also a founder-member of the contemporary music ensemble Psappha. His recent projects have included working with the Richard Alston Dance Company in Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka, collaboration with radical improvisation group Bark!, and an invitation from Pierre Boulez to join the Ensemble Intercontemporain in a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Steve Plews is a prolific producer and recently recorded the award winning double CD, The Complete Piano Works of Peter Maxwell Davies. He runs the studio and label ASC Records, which exists to promote artists in contemporary classical and jazz, and Prima Facie Records, which specialises in premiere recordings by British composers.