Prima Facie Concert
MON 12 DEC 2016 | 18.00 | FREE
Prima Facie invited guests to pop in for a couple of Christmas drinks at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, to celebrate their successful collaborations over the last year with the Royal Northern College of Music; details here.
Three new projects crossing three generations were launched:
Anthony Gilbert, former professor of composition at the RNCM: 'Travelling with Time'
Adam Gorb, current professor of composition at the RNCM: 'Dancing in the Ghetto'
Larry Goves, lecturer in composition at the RNCM: 'The Rules' featuring the National Youth Orchestra
Two new releases for the new year were also available at the concert.
Continuing our theme of connections with the RNCM we were pleased to announce the forthcoming release of:
'Alan Rawsthorne: A Portrait' (PFCD053), which features Principal Linda Merrick (clarinet), and
'Aztec Dances' (PFCD052), which takes its title from the work by retired Principal and composer Edward Gregson.
New CDs for Winter 2016
A Land so Luminous - Music by Richard Causton and Kenneth Hesketh (PFCD051)
A world première recording of music by Kenneth Hesketh and Richard Causton.
"... radiant harmonic colour and pithy, abstract narrative... powerfully sombre...taut beauty" Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (****)
"... a dynamic programme well executed" (Adam Fergler)
"Kenneth Hesketh and Richard Causton are amongst the foremost British composers of their generations, and ‘A Land So Luminous’ showcases their distinct compositional voices and musical craftsmanship" (The Cross-Eyed Pianist)
"We must thank Prima Facie for this most rewarding and enjoyable release. The performances are first class and the recordings... are excellent." (The Classical Reviewer)
'A Land So Luminous' showcases the exceptional talent of these two British composers, and is performed by the conductor Philip Headlam with The Continuum Ensemble and an outstanding array of soloists.
“Kenneth Hesketh composes music of delicate luminosity” - Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
"Causton is among our most imaginative composers” - Paul Driver, The Sunday Times
Kenneth Hesketh (b. 1968) and Richard Causton (b. 1971) are among the foremost U.K. composers of their generation. 'A Land So Luminous' features their works for large ensemble, duo and trio as well as solo flute, cello and piano. A strikingly diverse and atmospheric collection, the music draws imaginative inspiration from a rich range of sources including Heinrich Hoffman’s nineteenth-century cautionary tales for children, 'Shock-Headed Peter', a poem by Marina Tsvetayeva, shamanic ritual and Fats Waller, as well as Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, K. 622.
Conductor Philip Headlam, long-time champion of these composers, sees 'A Land So Luminous' as an opportunity for Hesketh and Causton to gain recognition from audiences across the U.K. and beyond, and illustrate their outstanding creativity and craftsmanship.
Containing music never previously recorded, the acclaimed Continuum Ensemble is joined by a stellar line-up soloists: violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen (‘fearless intensity’ - The Guardian), soprano Mary Bevan (‘bewitching’ - The Independent), flautist Lisa Nelsen (‘a flautist and a half’ - The Times), cellist Joseph Spooner (‘tremendous musicianship’ - Fanfare) and Douglas Finch (‘a true virtuoso’ – The Independent).
Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson Vol. 1 (PFCD050)
Kenneth Hamilton - piano
"Hamilton brings exactly the right degree of control to the unstoppable streams of musical ideas, without ever compromising their energy or technical brilliance." (Andrew Clements, The Guardian)
"Hamilton has both the insight and the facility to bring every corner of his teacher’s music to life. The recording is a pure joy to hear." (Adam Fergler)
“Played with understanding and brilliance…An excellent starting point for anyone new to Stevenson’s music.” Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review
“All the pieces are tackled with real passion. This is an unmissable disc, and one waits impatiently for Volume Two.” Colin Clarke, Fanfare
"Hamilton presents this fascinating music with power, passion and precision.“ Peter Burwasser, Fanfare
"A splendid introduction to those unfamiliar with this composer…Strongly Recommended.” Guy Rickards, Musical Opinion
"Kenneth Hamilton is quite magnificent…One marvels at Stevenson’s creative genius, particularly in performances as fine as these.“ Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer
"A welcome addition to the catalogue of new recordings of piano works by a 20th-century musical treasure...Hamilton is a sensitive advocate with an obvious love for this music.“ Matthew Swan, McAlister Matheson Music
"A most enjoyable disc..robust and sweepingly romantic in the more bravura works, charming and witty in the shorter pieces.“ Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist
"This is a lovely recital...Kenneth Hamilton is completely in tune with Ronald Stevenson's style, and fully equal to the bravura demands of the music." Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
Listen to 'Conducting Conversations', a Radio 95.9 FM WCRI podcast, featuring Kenneth Hamilton and with extracts from this CD:
Prima Facie has long been keen to record the powerful and multifarious music of Ronald Stevenson. Producer Steve Plews accordingly seized the opportunity when he met pianist Kenneth Hamilton, a former student and colleague of Stevenson's who plays his works with passion and conviction. Hamilton explains the background to this fascinating and timely CD, the first volume of a collection that includes several première recordings:
"I first heard of Ronald Stevenson when I was still a student. Lawrence Glover, my piano teacher at the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) was a great friend of Stevenson’s, and mentioned him frequently during lessons, speaking with something akin to awe of his “astonishing keyboard mastery” and encyclopaedic awareness of the arcana of Romantic pianism. When I played Balakirev’s Oriental Fantasy Islamey to Lawrence, his immediate reaction was “Ronald Stevenson will really have to hear this!”.
By this time, Stevenson was already a respected but contentious figure in the cultural life of Scotland and the UK as a whole. His multifarious musical passions, the wide scope of his output, and his outright rejection of the more alienating elements of contemporary Western composition had led him to be labelled by some as a neo-Romantic reactionary (especially ironic, given his left wing social and political views) or even as a socialist-realist composer (which at least took into account these views). Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, in 1928, of Scottish and Welsh working-class stock, he had studied at the then Royal Manchester College of Music, moved to Scotland in 1952 with his wife, Marjorie, and thereafter strongly identified with his Celtic heritage.
But he had been born out of his time, as the aesthetic winds were then blowing in a direction that he found distinctly uncongenial. A generation of students from the same College only a few years younger than Stevenson, most prominently Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies (both born in 1934), would go on to represent the so-called New Manchester School of musical modernism, while Stevenson carried on in a decidedly different vein. Despite this, the sheer scope, power and mastery of his Passacaglia on DSCH (1963) finally brought him international recognition.
It was not until 1990 that I actually met Stevenson himself in his cottage in West Linton, near Edinburgh, after an introduction brokered by the actor, writer and convivial polymath Derek Watson, who lived in the same village. By then I was keen to meet Stevenson not just because of his legendary pianistic prowess, but also because of his compositions. I had recently come across a recording by Stevenson himself of his magisterial Passacaglia, and had been stunned by both the piece and the playing.
Stevenson proved personally to be as generous and many-sided as his music, a fundamentally Lisztian figure transplanted into the late 20th century- although he physically rather resembled Paderewski, another of his great enthusiasms. To complete the quartet of artistic affinities, we should also add the names of Ferruccio Busoni and Percy Grainger. Stevenson studied and played the music of both these composers with a fervour amounting to obsession, and they had an ineluctable influence on his own artistry."
Prima Facie Records
CD label featuring world premières by British composers.
Prima Facie is the meeting of two minds - Giles Easterbrook and Stephen Plews - both known in the music industry as champions of new music. They have produced or promoted hundreds of projects, many of which have won awards or been recognised as outstanding contributions to the arts.