The counties on the borders between England and Wales — Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire — are rich in spiritual resonance, powerful historical imagery and a tangible sense of tranquility and apartness, which continues to appeal strongly to composers, writers and artists. This CD presents works for piano by four composers associated with this borderland.
Edward Elgar was born just outside Worcester; the Concert Allegro, his only substantial piece for solo piano, was written whilst living at Malvern Wells. Ivor Gurney was strongly attached to his native Gloucestershire, and his Five Western Watercolours paint sound portraits of favourite landscapes in that county. Walford Davies was born in Oswestry, Shropshire; his Theme and Variations, written whilst a student at the Royal College of Music, was rediscovered by Duncan Honeybourne, who gave its first known public performance in 2015. Richard Francis was born in Herefordshire and now lives and works in Shropshire: the works on this CD were given their première performances by Duncan Honeybourne.
“It's fun to hear from Walford Davies in his student days, flamboyantly building up his 1890 Theme and Variations from a docile, hymn-like melody. Honeybourne treats his enterprising repertoire with respect and affection.” – BBC Music Magazine, 4 stars **** for performance and recording
“Honeybourne has given a wonderful, inspired account of all these pieces... a remarkable CD.” – MusicWeb International
Luke Whitlock's music is firmly rooted in traditional harmonies and tonal bases, lyrical and expressive. This is the first album devoted to his work and features acclaimed pianist Duncan Honeybourne in solo works ranging from Whitlock's survey of 18th century Suite form, to two picture-pieces and a lively, witty and sparkling waltz. A very open, airy flute sonata and three impressionist works for wind trio make this a fine introduction to music of wide appeal.
“Luke Whitlock's debut CD, Flowing Waters, is a collection of beautifully composed pieces. Being a pianist myself, I'm particularly fond of the expressive and varied piano music on the CD, which is superbly performed by Duncan Honeybourne.”
– Debbie Wiseman MBE (Film & Television Composer)
“I have listened ‘right-through’ and again in shorter sections and found lots of lovely moods. My own immediate favourite - and I believe for many other listeners - is without doubt Evening Prayer. It is also beautifully played!”
– Joseph Horovitz (composer)
The use of the sobriquet ‘King of Instruments’ for the organ is well-known; and the violin was the instrument of the royal courts of Europe from the seventeenth century until after the Enlightenment. The chiasmus offered by the juxtaposition of these two instruments was thus irresistible as the title of a disc that features works for violin and organ or piano by three organist-composers: Herbert Sumsion, Harold Darke and Richard Pantcheff.
Composed early in their respective careers, the sonatas for violin and piano by Sumsion (organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 until 1967) and Darke (best-known for his setting of the carol ‘In the bleak Midwinter’) are full of zestful life and with a rich harmonic language that lends them depth and warmth. They are complemented on this recording by Richard Pantcheff’s Sonata for Violin and Organ, composed in 2010, and which casts the two instruments as partners in a dialogue that is full of lyricism, passion and energy.
Recorded in December 2014 in the Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, this disc highlights the Hudlestone Organ, built by the Swiss firm of Orgelbau Kuhn and installed in 2007.
“Both soloists play with nuanced feeling, and Duncan Honeybourne is an articulate advocate both for the music and for the expressive Kuhn organ of Jesus College, Cambridge. Ravishing accounts, too, of violin and piano sonatas by Sumsion and Darke.”
– Choir and Organ
Duncan Honeybourne's disc for EM Records explores the piano music of a forgotten romantic composer-pianist, the Englishman Greville Cooke. Cooke combined a professorship in composition at the Royal Academy of Music with parallel careers as a poet and Anglican priest, rising to become a canon of Peterborough Cathedral and a regular broadcaster in both musical and spiritual roles. EMR CD022 presents Cooke’s superbly evocative, richly passionate music – bearing wonderful titles such as Cormorant Crag, Whispering Willows, Sundown and Reef's End – with miniatures by Holst and Vaughan Williams to create a disc of English romantic piano music of vibrant colour and wide-ranging expressive power.
“The sympathetic pianist in this recording, Duncan Honeybourne… Cooke’s style, most affecting in lyrical mood, breathes something of that luxuriant Romanticism with which we are now much more familiar in the piano music of York Bowen… Honeybourne, with his delicate chemistry of touch and arm weight, persuasively coaxes out Cooke’s personal sense of poetry and gentle humour.”
“Instantly claims an eminent place in the annals of British recorded music. The performances catch both the storm and crash of these pieces, their willowy poetry, whimsical wit and flickering dappled fantasy. Cooke is fortunate in having found such a champion”
“This CD is superbly presented in every way. The liner-notes, written by Duncan Honeybourne are excellent, informative and interesting. The standard of playing is of the highest order: the recording is outstanding. Even the title of the CD – ‘A Forgotten Romantic’ – lends enchantment to this project.”
– Recording of the Year, MusicWeb International, July 2014
This disc from EM Records, performed by Duncan Honeybourne, explores the piano music of a forgotten romantic composer-pianist, Archy Rosenthal. This larger-than-life character wrote for his instrument with telling individuality, melting tenderness and searing intensity. Dublin-born Rosenthal was a virtuoso pianist of international fame, a pupil of Leschetizky and Godowsky and a close friend of Grieg. The land of his birth never lost its enchantment for this immensely charismatic and imaginative man, and our new release complements Rosenthal's barnstorming Variations on Hush-a-bye Baby and his reflective Irish Pastels with beguiling Hibernian musings by Stanford and Bax. All the works by Rosenthal receive here their World Première recordings.
International Piano – “A programme that enchants, disarms and whets the appetite for more in equal measure... Duncan Honeybourne’s playing is astonishingly affectionate, but never saccharine, something that rescues pieces like Rosenthal’s Variations on a Nursery Rhyme from the salon. Stanford’s Ballade in G minor presents some of the most serious of intent music on the disc, distinctly Lisztian in breadth and gesture. Honeybourne plays it with suave confidence.”
E.J. Moeran: The Complete Solo Piano Music performed by Duncan Honeybourne (piano) presents Moeran's complete, deeply atmospheric piano music alongside works by his English and Irish contemporaries. Included on this disc are première recordings of works by Aloys Fleischmann and Ronald Swaffield, while music by Howells, Vaughan Williams, Baines and Pitfield complete a set of discs that open musical vistas of the rugged mountains and grandeur of wild Ireland and the verdant pastorality of England's lush hills.
2 CD set released 1st February 2013 by EM Records. Available to order online at www.em-records.com
“Hard to imagine better performances” — BBC Music Magazine (**** excellent rating),
“A set not to be missed by all lovers of English music” — Gramophone,
“Honeybourne is in a class of his own, and his account of the Theme and Variations (Moeran’s most substantial piano work) is unsurpassed on disc. I would rate this new two CD set as the best complete recording of Moeran's piano output.” — MusicWeb International,
“Terrific intensity and touches of panache where needed” — International Record Review, May 2013