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Cat. No. CHAN 9818 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9818 - Leighton: Piano Works
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Available From: 20 April 2000
Despite an academic career path, the fecundity, variety and inventiveness of Leighton’s writing suggest not only a lively if often dark imagination, but a scope given to remarkably few British keyboard composer’s. His Sonatina No. 2 dates from 1947 and its terseness – almost as if Prokofiev had joined hands with John Ireland – is enlivened by personal quirkiness and a deliberately thin two-part writing.

The Five Studies, Op. 22 offer another world of rich and intricate patterning. The first has a sustained melody and syncopated lines; the second is more transparent, almost sparse in texture. The third has a high flying configuration, while the fourth, with its romantic fullness, is the nodal and expressive centre of the set. The last Etude, suitably, fizzes with pent-up virtuoso energy.

The Fantasia contrappuntistica (a homage to Bach) won the Busoni prize and was premiered by Bolzano, Italy by Maurizio Pollini in 1956. It has a sense of urgency, of bleak percussive and thorny virtuoso demands.

The eight Pieces for Angela are brief but concentrated offerings for gifted children, which show Leighton’s genius and ingenuity in such short spaces.

Four Romantic Pieces, Op 95 were premiered by the composer in 1987 and contain music charged with an optimum richness and significance. Leighton’s own notes on the pieces are modest and to the point. For him, No. 1 is ‘largely monothematic and darkly intense’, No. 2 is a Scherzo, its momentum halted like some constantly threatened life force. No. 3 is as pensive and elegiac as the most profound and expressive of Debussy’s Etudes. No. 4 is heavily syncopated and, again, has its origins in the nostalgia and despair of the jazz world.

‘I liked this program so much that … I’ve listened to everything on it many times, with ever increasing pleasure and admiration for Leighton’s music – and for Margaret Fingerhut, who plays with fire and intelligence. Recorded sound is strong, vivid, and true’.
American Record Guide

Margeret Fingerhut plays superbly… An extremely rewarding recital.


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