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Music For You - Skempton: Piano Works / John Tilbury


Release Date: 05/07/2002 
Label:  Legacy Recordings Catalog #: 89954   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Simplicity is the key to these chorale-like miniatures and musical landscapes, by turns playful and solemn. This disc is a hymn to life itself.

This disc, reissued in Sony's beautifully packaged 'Music for You' series, highlights the contemporary British composer Howard Skempton at his best and most idiomatic. While his creative peak, to date, is perhaps represented by his orchestral masterpiece Lento, these miniatures are probably more representative of his body of work as a whole and share with Lento a profound ability to communicate with their audience. Simplicity is the key here, and the composer's own booklet notes, while bearing little resemblance to the usual track by track commentary, divide the pieces into two
Read more types - chorale-like or landscapes. In one sense, I can see the logic at work here but the music encompasses so much more than that stark description could ever do.

The quintessential pianist for experimental British music of this vintage, John Tilbury, not only finds within himself performances that commune completely with works he is playing, but also contributes a second, highly perceptive booklet note. The composers he chooses to compare are American (Cage and Feldman) but I would add that anyone fond of the piano miniatures by the likes of Sculthorpe or Pärt will find much to please them here. Beyond that, I can, predictably I suppose, hear the ghost of Satie, by turns playful and solemn, at work as well.

This is a recital disc first and foremost and it would be wrong to overanalyse and isolate too many individual elements, some of which might be diminished by separation but certain tracks/pieces I cannot let pass me by without particular mention. The opening tribute to Skempton's teacher Cornelius Cardew is a friendly, unpretentious homage, whereas the extraordinary music, collected here as Images, written for a TV series about photography, places Skempton in the wider context of the English tradition with its incorporation of The Cockfight (a stunningly beautiful realisation) and, not for the first time with this composer, a version of The Keel Row. The Durham Strike reminds us that Skempton is not, unlike many of his contemporaries and, indeed, predecessors, detached from the real world but succeeds in its attempts at the transmutation of the daily grind into something more noble. These ears hear everything from Irish caoines to French impressionism in five and a half minutes of true genius.

Most of these pieces were written between 1970 and 1981, although they are not individually dated, and now it is surely time that Skempton gains the recognition he so richly deserves. Like the often very similarly inspired, though more "rock" aware music of Brian Eno's younger brother Roger, it positively bleeds artistic integrity and is what really ought to be playing on Classic FM's "chillout" sessions, rather than the pseudo-filmic ephemera of Einaudi et al. Absolutely essential, it reminds me of so many things I love in music, from the vaults of the ECM back catalogue to the contents of Singing Together I learnt as a child thirty years ago, this disc is a hymn to life itself.

-- Neil Horner, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Well, Well, Cornelius by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1982; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
2.
June '77 by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
3.
Trace by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1980; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 57 Secs. 
4.
Air by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 7 Secs. 
5.
Saltaire Melody by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 58 Secs. 
6.
Senza licenza by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
7.
Invention for Piano by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 31 Secs. 
8.
Passing Fancy by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
9.
Sweet Chariot by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 13 Secs. 
10.
Chorale for Piano by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
11.
Prelude no 1 for Piano by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 31 Secs. 
12.
Piano Piece 1969 by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 31 Secs. 
13.
Rumba by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 14 Secs. 
14.
Toccata for Piano by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1987; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
15.
Quavers 5 by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 23 Secs. 
16.
A Roma by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 50 Secs. 
17.
Of Late by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 40 Secs. 
18.
Campanella 3 by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1982; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 3 Secs. 
19.
Campanella by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
20.
Swedish Caprice by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
21.
Quavers 3 by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1975; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
22.
Una barcarola eccentrica by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 0 Minutes 40 Secs. 
23.
Images by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 29 Minutes 49 Secs. 
24.
The Durham Strike by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
25.
Postlude for Piano by Howard Skempton
Performer:  John Tilbury (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; England 
Date of Recording: 07/1994 
Venue:  Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Well, well Cornelius
June '77
Trace
Air
Saltaire Melody
senza licenza
Invention
passing fancy
Sweet Chariot
Chorale
First Prelude
Piano Piece 1969
Rumba
Toccata
Quavers 5
A Roma
Of Late
Campanella 3
Campanella
Swedish Caprice
Quavers 3
una barcarola eccentrica
Prelude
Interlude 1
Prelude 2
Interlude 2
Prelude 5
Interlude 3
The Cockfight: A traditional song
Prelude 3
Interlude 4
Prelude 6
Interlude 5
Song 2
Prelude 4
Interlude 7
Prelude 7
Interlude 8
Prelude 8
Interlude 6
Variations
Postlude: The Keel Row
The Durham Strike (1985)
Postlude

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