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Cat. No. CHAN 9752 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9752 - Beach: Piano Quintet
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Available From: 16 September 1999
Amy Marcy Cheney (Mrs H.H.A. Beach) was born in West Henniker, New Hampshire, but in 1875 the family moved to Boston, and active but rigidly conservative musical centre which became Beach’s focus. From the age of one it became clear that she was unusually musical. At the age of two she was able to sing tunes accurately and soon she was desperately wanting to play the piano. Clara Cheney thought that she must be disciplined in her upbringing and she was only finally allowed to touch the keyboard at the age of four. At this age she could play tunes and harmonise them, she had perfect pitch, and excellent memory and was composing. It was at the age of six that she was allowed to take lessons, but practice time was limited and exclusion from the instrument was used as a punishment.

Amy was mostly educated privately and she taught herself composition by studying the great masters. She first appeared in print at the age of sixteen and for the next twenty-five years, everything she wrote was published soon afterwards. At just over eighteen, she married Dr H.H.A. Beach, which restricted her concert career but broadened her field of composition. She moved away from songs towards larger-scale forms such as her Mass in E flat, Gaelic Symphony and Piano Concerto. After the death of her husband and mother she spent three years in Germany where she continued her studies.

On her return home she embarked upon an energetic concert career which proved to be very successful and in 1930 went to live in New York. Always deeply serious in her musical aims, she conformed to the last. She found the new music of Bartók and Hindemith horrifying but extended her own means to include native North American songs as source material. Well before she died her music was considered old fashioned; afterwards she was neglected, but now we are realising the virtues of her single-minded consistency.
Reviews

The members of The Ambache meet its demands with technical command and passionate fervour… enjoyable listening from beginning to end.
BBC Music Magazine

…the Ambaches full-blooded performance conveys increasing admiration for this too-long neglected composer.
The Strad ‘Strad Selection’

 

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