English writer and musician Peter Dickinson has a habit of surprising critics with his work. Gramophone magazine once described him as “a composer who has escaped the confines of the predictable without ever ceasing to communicate”.
So the announcement that he has released a new collection of piano music featuring recordings of old and new works is likely to be one which comes with much fanfare and excitement.
The disc, released on the Naxos label, features Rags, Blues and Parodies as well as the first recording of two longer works all of which are performed by the Lancastrian-born composer.
Among the work is The National Anthem and Rule Britannia, which have been turned into the Patriotic Rag. Edward MacDowell’s classic To a Wild Rose becomes both a blues and a rag, while the first Prelude in Bach’s 48 becomes the source of a blues.
Chester Novello, to whom the composer is signed, noted that a number of these tracks have come from larger works.
Indeed, the MacDowell ones are the basis of Dickinson’s Blue Rose Variations for organ, heard at the Proms two years ago, while the Patriotic Rag comes from London Rags for brass quintet, which formed the second half of the South Bank Show programme devoted to Dickinson.
In addition to this, the Satie arrangements were for Dickinson’s orchestral Satie Transformations, a Feeney Trust commission and the Concerto Rag comes from Dickinson’s Piano Concerto, originally recorded by Howard Shelley and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Christopher Palmer said about Dickinson’s larger works: “Conflicts, juxtapositions, attempted syntheses – his work is full of them, all shook-up, all mixed-up, all jazzed-up … yet always keenly imagined and meticulously reasoned and realised.”
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