Kenneth Leighton had a distinguished life as a composer, pianist and, latterly, as Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University. He wrote his Six Study-Variations
in 1969 and they are an important and inexplicably neglected example of English piano music at its best. The rhythmic inventiveness—moving from the pointillism of the second and fourth studies to the snappy, jazz-like syncopations of the ferociously virtuosic final one—is always perfectly judged and paced, and the harmonic tension never strains nor slacks. At the heart of the work is the densely chromatic third study in which slow, repeated notes collide and rise inexorably in thickening clusters to a fist-shaking climax of defiant intensity.
from notes by Stephen Hough © 2002