ALBUM TITLE: Leighton Piano Works
WORKS: Sonata No. 1; Sonata No. 2; Sonata, Op. 64; Variations, Op. 30; Fantasia contrappuntistica
PERFORMER: Angela Brownridge (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34301-3
Much respected as a craftsman and a teacher, the late Kenneth Leighton was really a more significant creative personality than he was often given credit for. Though perhaps best known now for his church music, the piano was very much at the centre of his creative world; piano music encompassed his entire career, from the two Sonatinas of Op. 1 (1946) to the set of Preludes he was writing at his death 42 years later. There have been some notable recordings before – Stephen Hough’s of the Op. 56 Study-Variations (Hyperion), Peter Wallfisch in the Op. 30 Variations and the Op. 64 Sonata (Chandos) – but this new three-disc set of Leighton’s ‘complete’ solo piano works in excellent accounts by Angela Brownridge is immensely valuable.
His musical language was an eclectic mix, nourished by such influences as Bartók, Hindemith, Bach, Busoni, a temperate use of 12-tone procedures – and also the impressionism of Debussy, patent in the early works and transfigured in the maturity of the late ones. In a sense the piano output makes Leighton seem more of a miniaturist than in fact he was, prone to variation-sets and suites of short pieces (there are 78 tracks to consider). But the disparate movements often build to an impressive architectural unity, and the lyricism and passion are never in doubt. Wholeheartedly recommended. Calum MacDonald