American Record Guide

This is all the piano music of English composer David Jennings from 1988 to 2010. Opus 1, a piano sonata, opens with a ballade that has a lyrical main theme and a serene tone that gradually becomes more agitated. There are two lively jazz-influenced movements and a glowing slow one that offers the work’s most eloquent music.

From the late 80s come three charming sonatinas, innocent and flowing pieces in the manner of Schumann’s Kinderszenen. An angular contrast is the Prelude and Fugue from 1992 and 1999, a 12-tone piece that was, in Jennings’s words, “a response to newer musical influences encountered at university”. For tonal composers like Jennings, the tempta­tion to at least fiddle with a tone row often proved irresistible.

By the new millennium Jennings had apparently recovered (“Get thee behind me, Satan”): the Three Lyrical Pieces are some of his most songful works, the Miniature Suite an homage to Bach that sounds like a cross between Elgar and the Baroque. Harvest Moon Suite closes the album on a pastoral note. The young pianist James Wiltshire plays all these pieces with warmth and an emphasis on the melodic line. David Jennings’s music is not flashy or ostentatious, but it is melodic, open hearted, and well made.

—Jack Sullivan