Piano works by Tippett, Willis, Holloway, C Matthews, Jackson and Fitkin.

COMPOSERS: C Matthews,Holloway,Jackson and Fitkin.,Piano works by Tippett,Willis
LABELS: UH recordings
ALBUM TITLE: Richard Uttley
WORKS: Piano works
PERFORMER: Richard Uttley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 20011009
If symphony orchestras and even concert halls can have their own record labels why not a university – especially when it (Hertfordshire) can call on the 2006 winner of the British Contemporary Piano Competition to assemble such a thought-provoking programme spanning the last half-century? Curiously, it’s the oldest piece – Tippett’s single movement Sonata No.2 of 1962 – which sounds the most ‘modern’ despite the fact that Chris Willis completed Burning up only months before Uttley recorded it. The Willis might take its starting point in ‘the atmosphere of electronic dance music’, but it soon erupts into an energetic (and energising) Baroque romp – JS Bach as meditated by Nina Simone in an extended riff, or Debussy’s ‘Dr Gradus’ for the techno age. It certainly spotlights Uttley’s dancing fingerwork. He’s a pianist with bags of technique and an evident rapport with contemporary repertoire (even if the Tippett doesn’t quite hang together as convincingly as it as it does for Paul Crossley or Stephen Osborne). He’s more at home in Robin Holloway’s cannibalistic deconstruction of the ‘Ballade’ and ‘Nocturne’ and especially compelling brokering a pact between reverie and boldness in Timothy Jackson’s ear-catching salute to Byrd’s ‘Pavana for the Earle of Salisbury.’ Contemporary piano music has some fine young interpreters right now; Richard Uttley’s is a name to add to the distinguished litany.

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