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Global Fascinations and Sophistications

Steven Wray


Resonances: Classical, Romantic and Modern in Central Europe

Every so often I am appoached by young pianists who have already branched out on international careers. One such is Steven Wray, who studied under Dorothy Law, a student of Paul Baumgartner. Masterclasses in Salzburg and advanced classes in Vienna paved the way for performances and chamber music recitals in Central Europe and Schubert lieder with Czech baritone Petr Matuszek. This led on to festivals, radio and TV engagements with regional orchestras and a solo debut for London's Park Lane Group.

Steven's wide range of repertoire embraces classical, romantic and modern composers with a special penchant for Schulhoff, Ullmann, Suk and Schoenberg. A CD, which takes as its departure the 'core elements' of his working output so far, and features Beethoven's A major Op 101 - a carefully modulated reading which pays adherance to its formal, if startling constructive planning, then Suk's Things Loved and Dreamt, so very typical of the composer's emotive, rich chordal build-up and passionate involvement with life's trials and endeavours, and finally Schoenberg's 6 Little Pieces dating from the same year (1909), that poses equations first, then resolves them by atonal means to discover possible resolutions free of structural ambiguities.

I like the piece by Petr Pokorny, Dying Away, which shows how later Czech composers broke away from tonal concepts to find a personal language somewhat akin to the New Viennese School, yet here the material is a series of legato fragments which link to form a definite pattern. Brahms, in his greatest work for solo piano, the Handel Variations, uses classical structures as the basis for his powers of invention, but Schoenberg and others that followed owed him a debt for showing them the way forward. I sense astute programme planning throughout, and I hope to hear this commanding and sensitive artist soon in live recital.

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Copyright © 4 October 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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