Sonnets Without Words

Antheil, Berg, Ives, Jackson, Macmillan, Stanchinsky
Piano works by Jackson, Berg, Antheil, Stanchinsky, MacMillan and Ives
Richard Uttley (piano)
UH recordings
Catalogue Number:
BBC Music Magazine

Young British pianist Richard Uttley’s second recital disc is a thoughtful snapshot of 20th-century piano music. In some ways this disc is more than the sum of its parts: the rather Stravinskian ruminations of George Antheil and the more airy fantasies of Alexei Stanchinsky would not work so well outside of this sensitive context.

There are, however, some true musical highlights; not least the hard-bitten frostiness of MacMillan’s Sonata and the barn-storming account of Ives’s Three Page Sonata, where Uttley revels in the hilariously bathetic climax.

Perhaps the greatest test of interpretation comes in the Berg Sonata which for all its brevity makes extreme emotional demands on the performer. Uttley’s reading is admirable in its attention to detail and has a fine sense of line, but does not explore the music’s passionate extremities and so falls a little flat. No such concerns in Timothy Jackson’s taut sonata, which explores ‘the sonata as musical equivalent to the sonnet’.

If that implies a mood of gentility, an arresting, diabolical dance and fantastically thunderous climax will make the listener think again. In all, this recital challenges, illuminates and entertains in equal measure: a very worthy release. Neil Smith

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