HUGH BENHAM (b.1943): Piano Music - Sonata, Sonatina, Landscape, Hampshire Night, Hampshire Morning, Little Suite, Mice on the Farm, Duets: Barbara Allen, Finale.

Catalogue Number: 10X061

Label: Convivium Records

Reference: CR061

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: A very attractive disc of tonal pieces. The composer explains them thus: "For Piano is a collection of pieces composed in a broadly classical style. It explores the variety of color, sound and tone achievable from one of the most versatile of all instruments, and is designed to be accessible to a wide range of players and listeners." Benham is primarily an academic and writer on music, specializing in Tudor church music and pedagogical texts. He has written a significant body of sacred music, and these piano works, full of charm and ready appeal and accessible to any listener, and in most cases to pianists of sensitivity but moderate technical capability. A vein of English pastoral modally inflected folksong lyricism runs through his work, especially in pieces with titles like "Landscape" and "Hampshire" (the county of quintessentially English countryside where he lives). The duet setting of the traditional English song "Barbara Allen" strongly suggests a Grainger folksong setting for young pianists, and Hampshire Night has echoes of Impressionism. The 3-movement Sonata is no trifle, but even here lightness of touch and genial expression are the music’s primary characteristics. As one might expect of a writer of textbooks on harmony and counterpoint, the pieces are exemplary in construction, and he appears to have a penchant for teasing his audience (or perhaps making sure that students are paying proper attention to what’s in front of them) with slightly unexpected cadences and modulations. Thoroughly enjoyable. Natalie Tsaldarakis, Panayotis Archontides (piano).

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