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British Piano Sonatas (PFCD221)

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


Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) - Piano Sonata (1956)

[1] Adagio
[2] Andante con moto; Scherzo – Allegro vivo
[3] Adagio; Andante
[4] Allegro con brio

Arnold Cooke (1906-2005) - Piano Sonata no.2 (1965)

[5] Moderato maestoso; Molto allegro
[6] Andante sostenuto
[7] Allegro energico

Nicholas Marshall (1942- ) - Piano Sonata (2021)

[8] Allegro moderato, poco flessibile
[9] Scherzando
[10] Lento
[11] Molto vivace

Total Time [62:11]

abstract image including piano keyboard


"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.

About this album

Duncan Honeybourne writes: "It seems to me that these three British piano 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. Not a single note is unnecessary or employed for effect, and the dramatic gestures are calculated with precision and clarity. The emotional scope of all three works is wide, and the colouristic scope of all three seems to me to be almost orchestral in its imagination.

I had known the 1956 Piano Sonata of Gordon Jacob for some years before learning and performing it. It jumped off the page as a work of enticing lyricism and infectious joie de vivre. It was dedicated to, and premiered by, that fine English pianist Iris Loveridge (1917-2000).

Arnold Cooke’s highly distinctive and intricate compositional style is the product of a remarkably individual mind and a sophisticated technique. The sonata was premiered by my former professor, Rosemarie Wright (1931-2020) at the 1966 Cheltenham Festival in Cheltenham Town Hall. After her death in 2020 I was privileged to inherit the manuscript, with many of her own markings made in consultation with the composer. It is from this unique copy that I learned the piece and made the recording.

The Piano Sonata by Nicholas Marshall is the most recent of the three works on the disc, and by any reckoning the most severe and uncompromising. Yet it is shot through with moments of lyricism, even tenderness, and eruptions of almost ecstatic passion. I premiered the work at St Lawrence Chapel in Ashburton, Devon, in September 2022."


Recorded at St. Elizabeth’s Church, Ashley, Cheshire, 11th and 12th July 2023
Piano: Bõsendorfer
Engineer: Steve Plews
Producers: Steve Plews and Duncan Honeybourne
Edited and mastered by: Simon Crosby Buttle
Oil Painting “010221” by: Steve Plews
Cover and Booklet Design: Simon Crosby Buttle
This recording was made with the kind assistance of the Ida Carroll Trust

Duncan Honeybourne

Duncan Honeybourne sitting at a piano
Duncan Honeybourne enjoys a diverse profile as pianist and in music education. Following his concerto debuts at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the National Concert Hall, Dublin, he made recital debuts in London, Paris and at international festivals in Belgium and Switzerland. Commended for his “gripping performances” (The Times), “glittering performances” (International Piano) and “great technical facility and unfailing imagination” (Musical Opinion), Duncan has toured extensively as soloist and chamber musician throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, broadcasting frequently on BBC Radio 3 and radio networks worldwide. His many recordings reflect his long association with 20th and 21st century British piano music, and his debut recording as a harpsichordist was released in 2023. Duncan Honeybourne teaches piano and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Academy and is a Lecturer in Piano at the University of Southampton.