New Classics

John R. Williamson was born in 1929 in Manchester and studied composition under Richard Hall and piano with Hedwig Stein at the Royal Manchester College of Music. He also studied briefly with Lennox Berkeley and has himself taught music in a variety of schools and colleges in England and Wales. Compositions include five piano concerti, an extensive amount of solo piano music, twenty five sonatas for many combinations, chamber music, orchestral pieces, a symphony and a cello concerto. His unique style, which he describes as ‘palindromic’, makes frequent use of pentatonic and palindromic harmonic and melodic idioms. He has a special affinity with English songs and has written more than 140, about 90 of them being settings of A E Housman poems.

olumes One and Two of Williamson’s Piano Music were originally released on the Dunelm label, but their release now on Divine Art makes them generally available for the first time. Volume Three has not been issued previously. In these recordings, pianist Murray McLachlan – Head of Keyboard Studies at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester – gives eloquently persuasive performances of Williamson’s unusual and finely crafted works, including three sonatas and a series of preludes.

—John Pitts