Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson
7 October 2016
Professor Kenneth Hamilton has recorded the first in a new series of CD releases dedicated to the piano music of composer Ronald Stevenson.
A student and colleague of Stevenson’s, Professor Hamilton performs worldwide as a recitalist, concerto soloist and broadcaster. He has been described following a concerto performance with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra as “an outstanding virtuoso – one of the finest players of his generation” (Moscow Kommersant) and by the New York Times as a performer “full of energy and wit.”
Professor Hamilton, Head of the School of Music and International Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “Ronald Stevenson was an inveterately generous supporter of young musicians, his “comrades in art” as he put it, teaching and advising, like Liszt, without a fee but with a shared love of music, and with the added advantage of the welcoming hospitality of his wife Marjorie.
“I was grateful to be one of these comrades, and worked with him not just on the pieces recorded for this CD, but on many others from the standard repertoire. Most instructive of all, of course, was his own magnificently individual playing. As someone who benefitted from Ronald’s generosity in so many ways, I’m pleased to be able to bring his music to new audiences in this way.”
Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015) was a distinctive figure in 20th-century British music, thanks in part to his multifarious musical passions, the wide scope of his output, and his outright rejection of the more alienating elements of contemporary Western composition. A postmodernist before his time, he produced music of direct emotional intensity, vigour and imagination.
The CD includes several of Stevenson’s most well-known pieces such as Peter Grimes Fantasy, Symphonic Elegy for Liszt, and Beltane Bonfire. It also features several world-premiere recordings, including a new version of The Three Elizabethan Pieces after John Bull, revised and expanded by Stevenson for performance by Professor Hamilton in 1993.
Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson, Volume 1 is available now on CD. It is Professor Hamilton’s first release with Prima Facie Records but will be followed soon by Back to Bach – a collection of Bach tributes and transcriptions by Liszt, Busoni, and Rachmaninov.
The recording was recently described by Andrew McGregor on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review as “played with understanding and brilliance.”
Andrew Clements, reviewing the CD in The Guardian, said: “Hamilton, who studied with the composer, brings exactly the right degree of control to the unstoppable streams of musical ideas, without ever compromising their energy or technical brilliance.”