Prima Facie Records

CD label featuring world premières by British composers

Profiles of Giles Eaterbrook and Stephen Plews
Prima Facie Records was formed by the meeting of two minds – Stephen Plews and the late Giles Easterbrook – 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.

Prima Facie

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Antique view of London with Thames and St Paul's

Handel Remembered: Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and more... (PFCD235) £12.50/£17.50

Kenneth Hamilton – piano

Region


1. G. F. Handel/C. V. Alkan: Chorus of the Priests of Dagon: “Awake the trumpet’s lofty sound” (from Samson)
2-3. Franz Liszt: Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel’s Almira, S181
4. Ludwig van Beethoven: 32 Variations in C minor, WoO80
5. G. F. Handel/Wilhelm Kempff: Minuet, HWV 434/4
6-9. W. A. Mozart: Suite “in the style of Handel”, K.399: Overture - Allemande - Courante - Sarabande (fragment)
10. W. A. Mozart: A Little Gigue, K.574
11. G. F. Handel/Percy Grainger: Hornpipe (from the Water Music)
12-38. Johannes Brahms: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, op.24
39. C. W. Gluck/Johannes Brahms: Gavotte
40. Percy Grainger: “Handel in the Strand”

Handel Remembered is a rare recording of piano pieces inspired not by JS Bach, but by his great contemporary George Frideric Handel, and played by Kenneth Hamilton, whose remarkable series of Liszt CDs have garnered such exceptional critical acclaim. The climax is a commanding performance of Brahms’ magisterial Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. This delightfully life-enhancing disc is, as ever, supplemented by Hamilton’s unfailingly entertaining and informative programme notes.

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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CD cover with abstract image incorporating a cello

'remembered melody ... vibrant echoes' (PFCD229) £12.50/£17.50

Works for cello and piano by Moeran, Jacob, Cooke, and Pantcheff
Joseph Spooner (cello) Duncan Honeybourne (piano)

Region


Ernest John Moeran (1894–1950) Prelude (1943, publ. 1944), Sonata (1947, publ. 1948)
Gordon Jacob (1895–1984) Sonata (publ. 1957) premiere recording
Greville Cooke (1894–1989) Sonata (1966–67) premiere recording
Richard Pantcheff Sonata (1983–84) premiere recording
Ernest John Moeran Irish Lament (1943, publ. 1952)

There has been a flurry of recording activity in recent years around British works for cello and piano, with the repertoire finally receiving the attention it deserves from artists, critics, and record labels alike. New light has been cast on familiar pieces and neglected treasures have been heard for the first time. Yet despite these endeavours, much remains to be done to bring the full range of this music to audiences. Long-time colleagues Joseph Spooner and Duncan Honeybourne, two of Britain’s foremost exponents of this repertoire, have now collaborated to bring together the known, the neglected and the new in a generous selection of works.

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Abstract image of piano with text British Piano Sonatas

British Piano Sonatas (PFCD221) £12.50/£17.50

Compositions by Gordon Jacob, Arnold Cooke and Nicholas Marshall
Duncan Honeybourne - piano

Region


Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) - Piano Sonata (1956)
Arnold Cooke (1906-2005) - Piano Sonata no. 2 (1965)
Nicholas Marshall (1942-) - Piano Sonata (2021)

"Three piano sonatas by relatively obscure British composers are presented here by Duncan Honeybourne, in each case persuasively." Dan Cairns, Sunday Times, 17/03/24.

This recital, recorded with the generous support of the Ida Carroll Trust, brings together three gritty and dramatic piano sonatas by British composers. Pianist Duncan Honeybourne, well known for his advocacy of 20th and 21st century British piano music, writes:

“It seems to me that these three sonatas stand well together. All are muscular, lyrical, assertive and impassioned, each with a real sense of organic growth and structural cohesion. All three composers had fully mastered their craft by the time they penned these mature and substantial works. It shows in the sureness of technique and the effectiveness and economy of the writing.”

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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4 Nocturnes CD cover - Lord Byron portrait

Four Nocturnes / Viola Sonata (PFCD226) CD £12.50/£17.50 Vinyl £15/£20

Composed by Daryl Runswick. Featuring London Voices, National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble conducted by Ben Parry, Caleb Sibley viola, Aleksander Szram piano

Format/Region


'Four Nocturnes' (1992-3, revised 2010; perf. London Voices & National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Ben Parry) contains settings of Byron’s night poetry. The range of subjects and moods is enormous, from gothic black to risqué farce, and this provides the composer with a rich quarry for an extended piece.

In 'Viola Sonata' (2012, revised 2015; perf. Caleb Sibley, viola & Aleksander Szram, piano) the long melody heard at the beginning of the sonata is reintroduced many times in different guises. This gives the piece its unity, while the re-imagining – retrograding, inversion, canon, rhythmic compression, reduction to chords, etc – provides the variety.

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Chit Chat CD

Chit Chat (PFCD214) £12.50 (UK) / £17.50 (ROTW)

Music for two clavichords performed by Terence Charlston and Julian Perkins

Choose Country


How often does one encounter the rich sonority of two clavichords on two superb historical instruments? This project celebrates this rare and enchanting medium with a range of works written specifically for Terence Charlston and Julian Perkins by acclaimed composer-performers Iain Farrington and Héloïse Werner, in addition to works by Alexander J. Blustin, Peter Maxwell Davies, Nicola LeFanu, Timothy Roberts, Peter Thorne, and Charlston himself. Following their successful performances and online videos, Terence and Julian have committed this repertoire to disc – not least to encourage more people to discover a new world of sound. The music ranges in style from New Orleans Jazz to atonality with occasional forays into modern takes on old(er) styles. Special techniques are sometimes used to conjure up unusual sounds, such as the use of cloth wedges to strum the strings and fingers pressed against the strings to create plucking effects. While blend is important, each clavichord has a distinctive voice that enables the performers to have a musical chit-chat. Further colour is provided by the use of an unequal temperament that still allows the music to venture into distant harmonic realms. The recording features two unfretted clavichords by two renowned makers: one based on an instrument from about 1775 by Johann Heinrich Silbermann and made by Peter Bavington in London; the other based on one by Johann Emanuel Schön from 1748 and made by Andreas Hermert in Berlin.

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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The War of Wrath CD

The War of Wrath (PFCD208/209) Double CD £15.00

Composed by Paul Corfield Godfrey
Performed by Volante Opera

Choose Country

The cycle of “epic scenes from The Silmarillion” by Paul Corfield Godfrey, drawn from the posthumous writings of J R R Tolkien, was the largest-scale work of classical music written in Wales in the twentieth century, and has been recorded by Prima Facie over the course of the last five years. We are now pleased to release the concluding section of this work, written as recently as 2019-20, to bring to an end Tolkien’s description of the history of Middle-Earth in the First Age. The text, as before, employs a wide variety of posthumously published texts by the author with the permission of the Tolkien Estate. It not only features the return of roles and singers familiar from earlier parts of the cycle, but also introduces new characters such as Elrond, Galadriel and the great mariner Eärendil who will be familiar to readers of The Lord of the Rings. All the singers are professional artists from Welsh National Opera.

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Full moon in sky

Cloud Atlas (PFCD207) £12.50/£17.50

Wind Music of Philip Grange

Region

In Memoriam Giles Easterbrook (1949-2021)

This re-release in digipak format is a companion release to 'In Passing' (PFCD204) and is dedicated to the memory of Giles Easterbrook who, in his role as publisher and agent, made an important contribution in bringing all three pieces on this CD to fruition. He was heavily involved in the negotiations for the Clarinet Concerto and Cloud Atlas, and the former is published by the innovative Maecenas publishing house for which he created a contemporary music catalogue. With Bacchus Bagatelles he not only published the work, but even copied the parts! For Giles a publisher had a serious responsibility for the trust given by a composer, and as such he felt it important to represent a composer’s work as a whole, not just individual pieces: wise words that took me some time to appreciate.
Philip Grange

For more details of this recording, please see the CD web page

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Featured Artists

Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton

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Mark Darvill-Evans

News


Coming Soon


abstract image incorporating musical instruments
Sonatas by Andrew Downes

Sonata for Double Bass and Piano, Op.90 (2006) performed by David Daly, double bass, and Duncan Honeybourne piano.

Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op.68 (1998) Performed by Ondřej Vrabec, French horn, and Daniel Wiesner, piano

Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op.86 (2001) Performed by Graham Walker, cello, and David Trippett, piano

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CD cover of person swimming along a river towards the sun
Piano and Chamber Music

This album restores to the world the solo piano and chamber music of a long-forgotten, enigmatic figure, Jessy Lilian Reason, nee Wolton, born in London in 1878. This disc presents Reason’s complete solo piano output, together with a sequence of three Poems for violin and piano. All demonstrate her distinctive impressionistic style: richly romantic; passionately lyrical; densely chromatic; intensely perfumed.

CD Launch


poster with details of a concert
Contemporary Piano Music Volume 1

A recital to celebrate the life and work of composer Anthony Gilbert saw the launch of a new Prima Facie compilation CD, 'Contemporary Piano Music Volume 1'. The concert, at Elizabeth’s Church, Ashley, WA14 3QE, on Saturday, April 13th, 2024, at 2.30 pm, featured new pieces in memory of Gilbert by Sally Beamish, Edward Gregson, Robert Saxton, Martin Butler, Kevin Malone and others, as well as the premiere of Gilbert’s last piano sonata, 'Sonata No. 4'. The sonata, performed by Richard Casey, opens the CD, which presents new and previously released pieces by various composers.

New Release


CD cover with image of water lilies
Barry Seaman Piano Duets

Composer Barry Seaman tragically died from Covid in April 2020, aged 73. A memorial album of his work, Imagine Two Rivers, was produced with Prima Facie Records in 2023. This album features four piano duets that are joyous for performers and listeners alike. The music dances with rich melodic and rhythmic interplay. It also reflects Barry’s love of folk music and dance, and a fascination with the creative possibilities of technology.

Album Preview for Easter 2024


CD cover with images of Franz Liszt and the crucification of Jesus Christ
Via Crucis

"Our intention was to have the Via Crucis released for Holy Week 2024; after all, Liszt himself hoped that his music could be heard and used for the commemorations that take place on Good Friday. With the Via Crucis, Liszt looks simultaneously forward and inside himself, and the only suggestion I can give to the listeners is to take time, sit back and immerse yourself in a journey that through tragedy and despair paves the way to salvation and the light of new life." Alessandra Pompili, pianist, March 2024

British Piano Sonatas


Abstract image of piano with text British Piano Sonatas
British Piano Sonatas

Duncan Honeybourne's release 'British Piano Sonatas' has been reviewed by Dan Cairns in the Sunday Times as one of the week's best classical releases. Cairns writes "Three piano sonatas by relatively obscure British composers are presented here by Duncan Honeybourne, in each case persuasively... Nicholas Marshall’s 2022 sonata is bracingly uncompromising, making demands on both player and listener and rewarding the effort handsomely."

New Release – The Grief Opera



The Grief Opera

Prima Facie Records are proud to support The Grief Opera, in which amateur singers, narrators, and musicians are joined by pianist Vladimir Miller, and international opera star Neil Latchman and rock singer Keri Farish as lead vocalists, in a community initiative promoting Suicide Awareness. The Grief Opera is profoundly emotional, and has been described as “harrowing but ultimately uplifting”.

New Release – Cuckoo: Seven New Works for Violin



Cuckoo

Cuckoo is the sixth solo album from acclaimed UK violinist Steve Bingham, and consists of premiere recordings of seven pieces, all commissioned by Bingham. Utilising everything from solo acoustic violin to 6-string electric violin, loops and recorded birdsong - via electronic backing, multi-layered violins and delay effects - it’s a heady mix of styles and compositional approaches which Bingham takes in his stride, revelling not only in the differences between the works but also in the unexpected links that crop up; palindromic elements, birdsong, loss and more.

New Release – Pantcheff Chamber Music



Chamber Music Volume 1

Following on from the highly successful release of three discs of Richard Pantcheff’s music for Organ solo (PFCD 174/5) and Organ with other Instruments (PFCD 205), Prima Facie Records has now embarked upon a project to record the Chamber and Instrumental Music of the same composer. Volume 1 of the series comprises world premiere recordings of a wide range of Richard Pantcheff’s chamber and instrumental compositions.

New Release – Kenneth Hamilton plays Pedro Faria Gomes



Scenes from Childhood

Portuguese composer Pedro Faria Gomes, whose imaginative and communicative music combines clear originality with a confident respect for tradition, turned to the piano during the global pandemic of 2020-2021. Sharing his initial sketches with pianist Kenneth Hamilton, his colleague at Cardiff University School of Music, led to a plan to compose a more elaborate work, to be premiered and recorded by Hamilton. The resultant, ten-movement, strikingly thought-provoking 'Suite J' is joined on this disc by the charmingly witty 'Sonatina', a gracefully concise companion piece. This is a nostalgically adult reflection on early childhood, and a moving, modern meditation on the music of earlier eras.

New release for December 2023



Choral Music by Richard Birley

This album features four choral compositions performed by the Rick Birley Singers, conducted by Richard Gowers, including an extended Advent Carol Succession.

Available now for download/streaming.

Annabelle Lawson interview


Composers Edition interviewed Annabelle Lawson about her album of Gordon Crosse’s piano music, which she describes as "this cluster of varied and consistently brilliant works". You can read the interview on the Composers Edition website.

Kenneth Hamilton interview


Kenneth Hamilton playing piano

In a fascinating interview with the Liszt Academy, Kenneth Hamilton discusses playing in Budapest, his approach to performing Liszt, and his series of Prima Facie Records CDs, 'Kenneth Hamilton plays Liszt'. You can read the interview on the Liszt Museum website

New for November 2023 – compositions by Daryl Runswick


CD cover with head and shoulders portrait of Lord Byron
Four Nocturnes / Viola Sonata (PFCD226)

'Four Nocturnes' (1992-3, revised 2010; perf. London Voices & National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Ben Parry) contains settings of Byron’s night poetry. The range of subjects and moods is enormous, from gothic black to risqué farce, and this provides the composer with a rich quarry for an extended piece. In 'Viola Sonata' (2012, revised 2015; perf. Caleb Sibley, viola & Aleksander Szram, piano) the long melody heard at the beginning of the sonata is reintroduced many times in different guises. This gives the piece its unity, while the re-imagining – retrograding, inversion, canon, rhythmic compression, reduction to chords, etc – provides the variety.

Kenneth Hamilton on BBC Radio 3


BBC In Tune logo

Kenneth Hamilton appeared on BBC Radio 3 In Tune on 3rd October 2023 in interview with Sean Rafferty, including a broadcast of the Schubert/Liszt "Leise flehen meine Lieder" and Gounod/Liszt Hymn to St Cecilia from his album Kenneth Hamilton plays Liszt – Volume 2: Salon and Stage.