Jian Liu: Where Fairburn Walked (Rattle)

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An Idyll, by Gordon McBeth
Jian Liu: Where Fairburn Walked (Rattle)

On a few occasions, Elsewhere defaults to merely introducing music without putting on the reviewer's hat. This is usually because – even though we like what we are hearing, and it is most often in the classical realm – we simply don't feel qualified enough to make critical comment.

All of which is introduce this very enjoyable, wide sweeping three CD collection by pianist and academic Jian Liu who – as the title suggests – addresses work by 20th century and contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand composers.

Among those included are Claire Cowan, David Hamilton, Jenny McLeod (the flighty Mysterious Whirly Square Dance one of four inclusions by her), Gillian Whitehead, John Psathas, Gareth Farr, Anthony Ritchie (his Caroline Bay Suite of miniatures), Ross Harris, Leonie Holmes and David Farquhar (also miniatures, his Three Inventions).

One of the least familiar names is Gordon McBeth (1885-1951) whose piece An Idyll immediately stands out for its formal nature. McBeth from Whanganui studied in Leipzig before WWI, later at what is now known as Juilliard and he worked Elgar. Few of his compositions are known to exist.

The 38 works by 24 composers here are a companion to two volumes of New Zealand piano works published in China and edited by Dr Liu.

Subtitled “An Exploration of New Zealand Piano Music”, this is another beautifully packaged release from Rattle with engaging design by Spencer Levine.

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You can hear and buy this collection at bandcamp here


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