Peter Seivewright performs Passacaglia

7.00 p.m. Saturday 15th February 2020
J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in C major BWV 846
Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015)
Passacaglia on DSCH
Tickets for this recital will be available
at St. Mark’s Unitarian Church from 6.15p.m. on the day of the recital
Price £10/£8

Piano Music Volume Four

This fourth volume in Christopher Guild’s ongoing survey of the piano music of the pianist-composer Ronald Stevenson (1928–2015) – a major figure in the cultural life of twentieth- century Scotland – presents works inspired by the human voice, where Stevenson was concerned above all to make the piano sing, to allow it to express human feeling as naturally as possible. That concern can be heard both in his own pieces and his many transcriptions of music by other composers, which balance sophisticated craftsmanship and a refreshing emotional directness.

>See more on this recording!

Scottish Portrait Gallery concert

The National Galleries of Scotland and the artist Victoria Crowe are delighted to host a concert on the 15th of November celebrating the music of Thea Musgrave in her 90th birthday year and the 90th anniversary of the birth of the composer Ronald Stevenson. This concert takes place at the Portrait Gallery during the showing of the exhibition Beyond Likeness which features Victoria Crowe’s portraits of both Musgrave and StevensonIn addition to vocal works by these two Scottish composers, the concert includes music by Arvo Pärt, Benjamin Britten and Gerald Finzi to mark the centenary of the First World War in November 2018.

Soloists include countertenor David James, Brain Bannatyne-Scott (bass) and soprano Susan Hamilton, accompanied by Jan Waterfield (piano) Gwen Sinclair (harp) and musicians from the University of Edinburgh. The counter tenor David James will perform some settings of poems by Kathleen Raine (whose portrait is also in the exhibition); the bass Brian Bannatyne Scott will perform setting of Hugh Macdiarmid, and the centrepiece of the exhibition will be soprano, Susan Hamilton, singing the Nine Haikus with harp accompaniment. 

After the concert, the event will continue in the Portrait Gallery café, where you will be able to enjoy a complementary glass of wine in the company of the performers. This is a great opportunity to meet Victoria Crowe in person where she will be signing copies of her Beyond Likeness book alongside the merchandise and two beautiful limited editions prints from her exhibition.

Note tickets for this event are only available in advance. Please call if you require assistance with access. +44 (0)131 624 6200.

detail of painting by Victoria Crowe

Tickets have just gone on sale for a one off celebrity concert at the Scottish Portrait Gallery from 6.15 – 9pm on Thursday 15th November. It is celebrating both the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 and the last days of the wonderful exhibition of portraits by Victoria Crowe at the SPG, and will include works by Thea Musgrave and Ronald Stevenson, both of whose portraits feature in the exhibition. In addition, performances of works by Britten, Part and Finzi will honour the end of the terrible conflict in 1918. David James, Susan Hamilton and Brian Scott will be the vocalists, along with Jan Waterfield on piano and Gwen Sinclair on harp.

There will be a chance to meet the performers and Victoria Crowe over a complimentary glass of wine after the concert. Tickets are very limited and are available only in advance via the SPG website, priced 25 pounds. The concert is advertised at the moment as “Celebrating Thea Musgrave’s 90th Year” but this may change!

John France reviews Christopher Guild’s CD

(from musicweb international)
Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015)

Piano Music – Volume 2
Frank MERRICK (1886-1981)
Hebridean Seascape (c.1935/1986) [13:05]
Three Scots Fairy Tales (1967) [3:15]
A Carlyle Suite (1995) [20:18]
Rory Dall Morison’s Harp Book (1978) [17:04]
Three Scottish Ballads (1973) [9:48]
Savourna STEVENSON (b.1961)
Lament for a Blind Harper (1986) [3:01]
All works transcribed by Ronald Stevenson
Christopher Guild (piano)
rec. 5 & 12 June 2016(?), Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton

I was confused. When I knew that I was receiving a CD of Ronald Stevenson’s piano music to review, I mistakenly assumed that it was a second volume to Murray McLachlan’s outstanding triple-disc set on Divine Art (dda21372). I had already reviewed this CD back in 2013. As it turned out, the CD in question was the second instalment of Christopher Guild’s survey for Toccata Records. Preparing for this review, I was reminded that there is yet another exploration of Stevenson’s music underway. The first volume of Kenneth Hamilton’s study of the composer’s music appeared in July 2016 (Prima Facie PFCD050). I have not heard this disc. Add to this five versions of the magisterial DSCH Passacaglia and several other discs devoted in whole or part to this repertoire, it seems that Ronald Stevenson’s piano music has suddenly become hot property.
read on….

American Record Guide

TOCC 0272 Ronald Stevenson Piano Music, Volume One: A Celtic Album

American Record Guide 09/09/2015

What a surprise. About the last word I’d use to describe Ronald Stevenson’s music is “charming”. Imposing, impressive, profound? Sure. But never charming. But this release has proved me wrong and shown me a side of this composer I never knew existed. christopher_guild In this first volume of Toccata’s I hope long series of Stevenson’s piano music, pianist Christopher Guild plays a mix of short folk song settings and two large, serious, virtuoso works more characteristic of the composer. It’s a great plan because sometimes, as in his 80- minute Variations on DSCH, Stevenson can be overbearing, even haranguing, so the mix of winsome folk settings and weightier stuff refreshes the ears. The longest and most important work here is the 20-minute Scottish Triptych, made up of a keening song, heroic song, and choralepibroch, dedicated to three fellow Scotsmen: a composer and two poets. The first piece is craggy and dissonant, insistent and angry— exactly the sort of thing one expects from this composer. The “heroic song” is slower, sweetly triumphal, and less dissonant. The pibroch, literally “piping” and referring to Scottish bagpiping, is the most delicate and gentle of all, with some notes strummed directly by the player’s fingers inside the piano, evoking a harp or harpsichord. This last piece is very moving, threnodic, gently heroic—a real find. If you know Medtner’s dithyrambs, minus their arch cheekiness, you’ll have a sense of this piece’s affect. Altogether this is the most stirring and emotionally compelling music I’ve heard from Stevenson and alone worth the price of the disc. In acknowledgment of its power and pathos, Mr Guild appends a long 25-second silence after the Triptych before moving on to some of the lighter settings. The other big work here is the 16-minute Rosary of Variations, recorded here for the first time. It’s an interesting concept for a work, mostly meditative and contemplative as one would expect, but with moments of great glory and exultation. I can easily imagine the penitent reciting the prayers of the Rosary, though the exact individual Mysteries contemplated are open for interpretation. It’s a variation work, so, yes, it’s repetitive; but then that is the nature and essence of the Rosary. Though I’m not Catholic, I found this work consoling and satisfying; perhaps Catholics would appreciate it even more than I do. The other half of the recital is 21 Scottish and Irish folk song settings, ranging from half a minute to about four minutes each. Most are fully tonal and technically in the grasp of amateur pianists, unlike the two large works; but sometimes Stevenson incorporates cranky and crunchy dissonance into his settings, so that I think of him as a Scottish Bartok. These are lovable little gems. Gorgeous Steinway, strong and rich bass, clear treble—absolutely everything I could want in a piano, and Guild is a fantastic advocate for this almost unknown music. I can’t wait for Volume 2. © 2015 American Record Guide Reviewer: Stephen Wright

St Giles’ at Six

st_giles_sixScottish Vocal Ensemble
Mark Hindley – Director
Fathers & Daughters
A programme of beautiful, atmospheric and moving music by Andreij and Roxanna Panufnik and Ronald and Savourna Stevenson, including the first performance of Savourna Stevensons’ 2014 work The Dream.
The programme will include Ronald’s:
Peace Motets
  1. Thou shalt not kill
  2. Put up again thy sword
  3. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares
  4. The Seventh Beatitude
Musings by the Lyne Water

Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson

NEW CD – Volume I of Kenneth Hamilton plays Ronald Stevenson. Kenneth Hamilton discusses his new Stevenson CD on Classical 95.9 WCRI radio in the US under the title “Conducting Conversations”.  This is available as a podcast on the following link: Conducting Conversations
The podcast include some interesting informal chat about the pieces themselves, and includes 7 complete tracks from the CD (the Three Scottish Ballads, Heroic Song for Hugh MacDiarmid, Rachmaninoff Lilacs, Novello/Stevenson “We’ll gather lilacs“, and Tauberiana).
ronald_ken_cover This CD has just become available (July 2016).  Kenneth Hamilton has recorded it on a fine Hamburg Steinway at the School of Music, Cardiff University, in Wales. The playlist is as follows: ronald_ken_tray_insert Peter Grimes Fantasy Three Scottish Ballads:
  1. Lord Randal
  2. The Dowie Dens O’ Yarrow
  3. Newhaven Fishwife’s Cry
Beltane Bonfire Heroic Song for Hugh MacDiarmid Symphonic Elegy for Liszt Chorale and Fugue in Reverse on Themes of Robert and Clara Schumann * Three Elizabethan Pieces after John Bull:
  1. Pavan
  2. Galliard
  3. Jig—The King’s Hunt (revised version) *
Lilacs – Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) )/Ronald Stevenson We’ll Gather Lilacs – Ivor Novello (1893-1951)/Ronald Stevenson Tauberiana (My Heart and I) * Richard Tauber (1891-1948)/Ronald Stevenson   (*first recordings)   Kenneth is already working on the second volume: sponsorship will be very welcome and may be made using the pro forma letter below (click to open this pdf) KennethHamilton_StevePlews_CD_IRC

Funeral recorded

ronald_serviceThis moving tribute event was fortunately recorded by Mark Norris (and includes improved quality to the pre-recorded pieces). Download and listen to the funeral recording icon_download   You can also download a pdf of the Order of Service icon_download