Notes and Editorial Reviews
British composer and pianist Ronald Stevenson turned 80 in March of 2008 and to celebrate APR issued his near legendary first recording, made in 1964, of his magnum opus, the Passacaglia on DSCH. Stevenson has remained somewhat outside the mainstream of British 20th century music as he has maintained the tradition of composer/pianist. He is a magnificent performer himself, and sees himself as most influenced by the likes of Busoni and Grainger. Born in Lancashire he studied in Manchester but has lived for over 50 years in West Linton, Scotland.
The Passacaglia on DSCH has been described as the longest single movement in the piano literature and is based on a seven bar theme derived from the musical notes (in German notation)
contained in the name Dmitri Schostakovich. The work was completed in 1962 and a copy presented to the Russian composer at the Edinburgh Festival that year. It is one of those works which seems much shorter than its length, such is the onward drive of its kaleidoscopically brilliant material. The countless variations include, amongst others, sections organised as suite, nocturne, pibroch, etudes and culminate in a triple fugue which combines the DSCH motive with BACH and the Dies Irae! This is a work in the tradition which runs from Bach's Art of Fugue through Busoni's Fantasia Contrapuntistica to Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum. "Monumental in every sense - a timely birthday tribute to the composer-pianist. " Gramophone Magazine, June 2008 "This classic recording ... proclaims that, for once, here's a word which really is as astonishing as legend has it. Stevenson's playing is a phenomenon in itself." - BBC Music Magazine, May 2008 *****
-- Appain Recordings
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