Continental lift: Rebeca Omordia, ‘African Pianism’; the African Concert Series

This marvellous disc contains multitudes. The variety of sounds and styles packed into its generous 77 minutes showcases not only the infinite intrigue of a music too little-heard until now, but the lightly-worn virtuosity of Omordia herself. (Important note: for the facts/background underpinning this post, I’m indebted to Robert Matthew-Walker’s invaluable booklet notes which, in…

Opalescence – Piano and chamber music by Ruth Gipps

Sonata for cello and piano, op. 63 (1978) – world premiere recording The Fairy Shoemaker (1929) – world premiere recording Theme and Variations, op. 57a (1965) The Ox and the Ass Introduction and Carol, op. 71 (1988) Opalescence, op. 72 (1989) Scherzo and Adagio for Unaccompanied Cello, OP. 68 (1987) – world premiere recording Sonata…

Retrospecstive 2021: Adrian Ainsworth’s 25 recordings of the year

As ever, blood, sweat, tears and several industrial-strength mugs of tea have gone into this year’s round-up. Even while the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to make musicians’ lives uncertain at best and hellish at worst, they have still managed to do us listeners proud. I have already written about some of the below…

Vital organ: Anna Lapwood, ‘Images’

No matter how long I’ve listened seriously to classical music – and with a mere decade of doing so behind me, I’m still one of the beginners – it’s always a good thing to be reminded that I’ll remain a learner for the duration, until my senses fail. There are always new sounds and new…

Heart songs: Elizabeth Llewellyn & Simon Lepper; Isata Kanneh-Mason

As soon as I read about ‘Heart and Hereafter’, Elizabeth Llewellyn’s debut recital album on Orchid Classics, I was excited and intrigued to hear it – for three main reasons. First, I had seen and heard her give a magnificent performance in the title role of Verdi’s ‘Luisa Miller’ for English National Opera back in…

Visions: Cyril Scott Piano Works

For many pianists, our first encounter with the music of Cyril Scott is through his exotic, languorous piece Lotus Land. This was also Georgian pianist Nino Gvetadze’s first introduction to Scott’s piano music, through one of her teachers at Tbilisi Conservatory. Scott’s music is rarely performed today, though Lotus Land remains a perennial favourite at…

“It feels like love”: Barb Jungr’s ‘Bob, Brel and Me’

A new album by Barb Jungr is always a cause for celebration, but it’s a particular delight to be able to write about what must be one of her very finest recordings. ‘Bob, Brel and Me’ is the kind of coherent, complete – and importantly, open-hearted and generous – release that makes a long-term fan like me want to take an armful of copies out and press them into the hands of friends, relatives, even unsuspecting passers-by.

RISE: a sparkling debut disc from a vibrant young performer

I first encountered saxophonist Jess Gillam at a private party given by a friend of mine. Still just a young teenager, she burst on to the stage in a gold-sequinned mini dress and black DMs, and proceeded to play an unaccompanied, foot-tapping saxophone solo with all the energy, commitment and confidence of a seasoned professional…