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a musician of the highest calibre...elegant phrasing and subtle rubato

With the plethora of CD’s available on the market today, it was refreshing to hear one which ‘ticks’ all the boxes. In this recital of English piano music, the William Sterndale Bennett Sonata in F minor is a revelation. With its inevitable influences from Mendelssohn and occasionally Schumann, this four-movement work is delivered with some of the finest piano playing I have heard in years. Simon Callaghan is a musician of the highest calibre, whose elegant phrasing and subtle rubato responds sensitively and with complete sincerity and conviction to the changing moods of the music. On a technical level he rises to the demands of this work, particularly in the frenetic scherzo and gallop like finale.

And so to the rest of the disc, which is no different. Two short pieces by the organist/composer, William Thomas Best, receive their first recording here and are played with absolute commitment. The Hubert Parry ‘Shulbrede Tunes’ – a set of ten miniatures based around the people and place of Shulbrede Priory (home of Parry’s daughter) – are equally well-played, with Callaghan bringing out all the subtleties and drama of the music with considerable élan. Who could fail, not to be moved by the exquisite ‘Dolly (No 2), with its Elgarian nostalgia, played here with refined taste?

This disc has been a constant companion and I would recommend it unreservedly. If you do buy it, play it to your friends, they may do what I did and think it was Murray Perahia!

Ivor Gurney Journal 1 January 2014

English Piano Works

World première recordings of works by Thomas Best.

The only recording currently available of Parry’s Shulbrede Tunes, alongside William Sterndale Bennett's F minor Sonata.

Extensive programme notes by prominent English music scholar, Dr Peter Horton

£ 5