Musical Opinion

This is a welcome re-issue of performances previously available on the Athene-Minerva label, which fits very well into Divine Art’s Diversions label series. William Mathias is the better known composer and is represented here by his two Sonatas, each quite different from the other, both exceptionally well written for the instrument. Those who regard Mathias as essentially an urbane composer may well be surprised at the force and tenacity of this music, especially the Second Sonata

John Pickard’s are more challenging in many respects, but both are profoundly impressive and deeply musical from start to finish, especially the Sonata from 1987. Pickard’s Sonata is, on this showing, a really important composition, and the composer, who provides occasionally combative booklet notes for all the music on the disc, is rewarded with a stunning performance from Raymond Clarke. A Starlit Dome is a fascinating piece of neo-Impressionism, but with a steely core. One of the main attractions of this CD is the intense quality of Clarke’s performances, the hallmark of a pianist who believes deeply in the music he plays and who has that rare communicative gift to transcend the medium. The recording is excellent.

—Robert Matthew-Walker