Ian Hobson interprets piano music by Kate Loder

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LABELS: Toccata
WORKS: Piano Music: Studies, Books 1 & 2; Mazurkas in A minor & B minor; Three Romances – No. 2 in A flat; Pensée fugitive in A flat; Voyage joyeux in A
PERFORMER: Ian Hobson (piano)


Scrutineers of British musical Victoriana may have heard of the Loders, a gifted dynasty from Bath. Perhaps the most celebrated of them was the composer and conductor Edward Loder (1809-65), who wrote some esteemed operas. His cousin Kate Loder (1825-1904) wrote an Elisir d’amore 20 years after Donizetti’s. But her principal realm, as composer and executant, was the piano (see ‘Background to’, left). Marriage to a surgeon in 1851 ended her public performances, though she continued to compose, teach and host soirées, one of which introduced Brahms’s Requiem to
the United Kingdom.

Brahms isn’t uppermost in this selection of her piano music (all are first recordings). But we certainly hear Chopin, Schumann and the Mendelssohn of the Songs Without Words, distilled into Kate Loder’s 24 short studies from the 1850s aimed at strengthening students’ hands and technique. Numerous pieces bring a smile with their twinkling cascades, parallel thirds, scales in octaves, and other devices, generally woven around fetching melodies or the simplest rhythmic exchanges.


The decorative modesty of this output is genuinely charming, especially in British pianist Ian Hobson’s sparkling performances, further enhanced by the blessedly clear and friendly recording. Little delights continue in the character pieces, spiked with the unexpected A minor Mazurka of 1895. Pungent and brusque, it’s as if a casement window has been forced open, suddenly revealing a wider world.
Geoff Brown