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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Front illustration by Donya Claire James (b?)
Track(s) taken from CDA67767
Recording details: September 2008
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 4 minutes 53 seconds

'Jonathan Plowright plays everything with calm, unforced assurance, nicely balancing Bach style and 1930s period manners, and making light of all the left-hand skips needed to suggest Bach's organ pedal parts. An immaculate recording and Calum MacDonald's detailed notes enhance the disc's appeal' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Every so often a CD comes along that I simply can't stop playing. Here's one such example … glorious interpretations by Jonathan Plowright' (The Observer)

'There are some gems here … this is an invaluable addition to Hyperion's Bach Piano Transcriptions series and Plowright has done us an enormous service in resurrecting these transcriptions and in rendering them so eloquently' (International Record Review)

Komm, süsser Tod, BWV478
April 1981; Homage to Stokowski

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Ronald Stevenson (born 1928) has been one of the foremost exponents of the art of transcription in the British Isles for over fifty years. In addition to his original compositions (which include the huge eighty-minute Passacaglia on DSCH and the choral symphony Ben Dorain) he has made piano versions of works by a huge range of composers from John Bull to Alban Berg. His version of Komm, süsser Tod BWV478 (the same chorale as set by Frank Bridge for Harriet Cohen’s Bach Book), dates from April 1991. It is, however, a transcription at one remove: for Stevenson has here made a solo piano version not from Bach’s original but of the orchestral arrangement by Leopold Stokowski. Stokowski himself said of his version that he had ‘tried to imagine what Bach would do had he had the rich resources of the orchestra of today at his disposal’. In re-imagining Stokowski’s orchestral textures for the keyboard Stevenson makes use of a rich palette of piano colour, especially in the middle and bass registers, and a subtle use of pedalling. He also had in mind Stokowski’s performance of the piece. The basic tempo is immensely slow, much slower than in the Frank Bridge version (a comparison of the two settings is fascinating). The surging, authoritative arpeggio writing at the climax makes clear that this is, above all, piano music. The final, heavenward-ascending gesture is Stokowski’s addition to Bach, newly given pianistic form by Stevenson.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010

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