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Raymond Clarke, piano

Raymond Clarke was born in Bournemouth, England, in 1963. He was awarded an academic scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge University, where he obtained his MA. From 1985-87 he studied piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, appearing four times as concerto soloist with the college orchestras, receiving in 1986 the Peter Donohoe Prize, and in 1987 a prize from Ursula Vaughan Williams for lieder accompaniment.

In March 1988 Raymond made his London South Bank Centre début, a recital described by Music and Musicians  as “truly a historic performance” and which according to the critic of The Times  “simply left one in dazed admiration”. After an all-Shostakovich recital in London at St. John's Smith Square in February 1990, John Amis wrote in Music and Musicians  of “a pianistic force to be reckoned with, possessing an appetite for big projects and carrying them through with great musicality, fluid technique and an attention to detail and delicacy not always associated with artists who think big”. His other London projects around that time included a five-concert Beethoven series at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in June 1990 (concentrating on the late works and concluding with the 'Hammerklavier' Sonata) and a two-concert centenary survey of the nine Prokofiev sonatas at St. John's Smith Square in 1990-91.

Since then Raymond has been an active recitalist, performing cycles of the complete sonatas of Mozart & Schubert, and appearing as piano soloist in over forty different works with orchestra, ranging from Mozart's concerti to those by Rachmaninov (No. 3), Bartok (No. 2) & Prokofiev (Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 5) plus major concertante works such as Scriabin's Prometheus  and Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie. His radio broadcasts have often featured repertoire by 20th-century English composers, including the Sonata No. 4 by Michael Tippett and Robert Simpson's Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Two of his commercial CDs have been chosen by Gramophone magazine's annual “Critics' Choice” retrospective as being among the best releases on any label. He is also editor of The New Shostakovich, a full-length study of the composer published by Pimlico in 2006 with a foreword by Vladimir Ashkenazy.