Review of a piano recital by Ian Pace, performing contemporary English music.
Ian Pace’s recital of English piano music at the Holywell Music Room was a virtuosic showcase of overwhelming proportions. Renowned for his ambitious programming and championing of contemporary composition, this recital was no exception, featuring works by Newton Armstrong, Nigel McBride, Rebecca Saunders, Brian Ferneyhough (whose complete works Pace is currently recording), and Michael Finnissy (whose complete works he has previously performed). While Finnissy’s monumental English Country Tunes was the technical apex of the programme, perhaps the most thought-provoking offerings came from Armstrong and McBride, composers working at City University London and Oxford University respectively.
A thread running consistently throughout the programme, from Ferneyhough’s Quirl through Saunders’ Crimson to Finnissy’s Country Tunes, is that of an underlying violence, both above and beneath the surface of the scores. In an interview with Pace in 2009, the composer spoke of witnessing the 1977 Lewisham riots as he worked on
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