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Aspirations: Piano Music By Marcus Blunt

Blunt / Mclachlan
Release Date: 02/25/2014 
Label:  Divine Art   Catalog #: 24148   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BLUNT Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 2, 3, “The Life-Force”. Seven Preludes. Iona Prelude. Iona Caprice . Three Nocturnes. Three Fantasies Murray McLachlan (pn) DIVINE ART 24148 (65:21)


Marcus Blunt is a British-born composer (born 1947) who studied composition at University College, Wales. He displays a fertile imagination and is served in exemplary fashion by the indefatigable Murray McLachlan. Read more Inspired by Shaw’s Man and Superman, the Third Sonata (1988, revised 1994) which is first in the playing order) displays a harmonic language that possibly aspires to Scriabin before breaking off, suddenly. The early Seven Preludes of 1967–79 which come next includes explicit homages to Scriabin and Scarlatti. The influence of Tippett is discernible, particularly in the counterpoint. There is much to enjoy here, particularly perhaps in the gentle humor of the Scarlatti homage. The form is that of Passacaglia, Theme, “Homage to Scarlatti,” “Homages to Scriabin” I & II, and “Adieu.” It works beautifully. McLachlan’s playing is superlative, entirely devoted to Blunt’s music. The hyper-chromaticism of the second Scriabin homage is particularly impressive.


Blunt moved to Scotland in 1990, and the country is an ongoing source of inspiration for him. The Iona Prelude , based on one chord, is nicely atmospheric with its slowly arpeggiated gait; the Iona Caprice, which followed on only a few short months later, is an aurally obvious derivation of this piece. It is hyper-brief (0:40), a mere tantalizing fragment.


There is a rather hypnotic aspect to the first movement of the Second Sonata (entitled “Elegy”), where rocking chords, sometimes tending towards Messiaen in their structure, dominate. It is the static, granitic elements of the finale (“Fantasia”) that are most memorable, however. The First Sonata is an intriguing and very Schoenbergian affair, with its opening Fantasia giving way to the portentous 13-note theme of the ensuing Variations. It is here in these variations that Blunt’s imagination reaches its most fertile plain. There is a palpably exploratory feel, superbly projected by McLachlan.


It is Berg that seems to impress himself on the aching harmonies and lines of the First Nocturne (“Malta Nocturne”). The next, “November Nocturne” bases its musical material from the available notes in the name of its dedicatee, Rupert Carrick. Concentrated and markedly crepuscular, it is a sophisticated piece of writing. Finally, the “Nocturne on the name FRAnk BAyFoRD,” using a similar technique, sparkles and twinkles in this magical performance from McLachlan.


The Prelude on a Fugue Theme by Bach was a 2000 tribute to Bach (based on the D-Major Fugue from Book II), and sets up in its short duration an atmosphere of suspended time. The three Fantasies on three names (Scriabin, Gabriel Fauré, and Murray McLachlan) clearly represent a fascination of the composer for this sort of technique. The Scriabin fantasy, while retaining simultaneities characteristic of that composer, adds a core of granitic strength to the mix. The Fauré piece actually was written for Kathryn Stott (who is associated with the music of that composer) and indeed exhales a rather Gallic air. The McLachlan fantasy was composed immediately prior to this recording. Although a mere three minutes in length, it traverses a wide variety of moods, ably delineated here by its dedicatee.


A fascinating introduction to a composer whose music deserves wider currency; recommended.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
The Life Force, for piano (Sonata No. 3) by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1988 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 6 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Preludes (7) for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1967-1979 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 10 Minutes 10 Secs. 
3.
Iona Prelude, for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1982 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
4.
Iona Caprice, for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1982 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 0 Minutes 41 Secs. 
5.
Sonata for piano No. 2 by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1977 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 12 Minutes 37 Secs. 
6.
Nocturnes (3) for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1987 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 5 Minutes 5 Secs. 
7.
Sonata for piano No. 1 by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1971-1972 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 11 Minutes 28 Secs. 
8.
Prelude on a Fugue Theme by J.S. Bach, for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2000 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
9.
Fantasies (3) for piano by Marcus Blunt
Performer:  Murray McLachlan (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1992 
Date of Recording: 05/29/2006 
Venue:  Whiteley Hall, Chetham's School of Music 
Length: 12 Minutes 16 Secs. 

Sound Samples

The Life Force, "Piano Sonata No. 3"
7 Preludes: No. 1. Passacaglia
7 Preludes: No. 2. Theme
7 Preludes: No. 3. Variation (Jiglet)
7 Preludes: No. 4. Homage to Scarlatti
7 Preludes: No. 5. Homage to Scriabin I
7 Preludes: No. 6. Homage to Scriabin II
7 Preludes: No. 7. Adieu!
Iona Prelude
Iona Caprice
Piano Sonata No. 2: I. Elegy
Piano Sonata No. 2: II. Scherzo
Piano Sonata No. 2: III. Fantasia
3 Nocturnes: I. Malta Nocturne
3 Nocturnes: II. November Nocturne
3 Nocturnes: III. Nocturne on the name FRAnk BAyFoRD
Piano Sonata No. 1: I. Fantasia: Allegro
Piano Sonata No. 1: II. Variations: Adagio
Prelude on a Fugue Theme by J. S. Bach
3 Fantasies: No. 1. Fantasy on SCRiABin
3 Fantasies: No. 2. Fantasy on the name GABRiEL FAURE
3 Fantasies: No. 3. Fantasy on the name MURRAy MCLaCHLan

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