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Peter Dickinson

Prima Facie Records is delighted to announce the release of Translations: Early Chamber Music (PFNSCD009) by English composer Peter Dickinson (born 1934). This release forms part of the Prima Facie Records NEW Series, which aims to encourage the younger generations to appreciate, promote and play contemporary music. The CD was released on 15 June 2018.

This disc spans much of Dickinson's career, from his days as a university undergraduate (Sonatina for Recorder and Piano, 1956, and Threnody for cello and piano, also 1956, the latter first recorded by Penelope Lynex and Alexander Wells) to recent works such as Waltz For Elliott Schwartz For Piano (2016), celebrating Schwartz's eightieth birthday, and Freda's Blues For Piano (2016), a tribute to Lady Berkeley (1923-2016), based on her husband Lennox Berkeley's song How Love Came In. It also includes works written some time ago but only recently performed, such as the Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano (1956), first performed in 2000.

The inspiration for the works on this CD is characteristically diverse. For example, Lullaby for clarinet and piano (1967/82) is derived from Dickinson's sketches for an opera called The Unicorns, based on a story by John Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006), about two competing countries who wanted to secure unicorns for research. Four Duos for cello and flute (1962), the second movement of which was written in a room with a chiming clock, uses a twelve-note row from Charles Ives' Three Page Sonata (1908). The idea for the Sonatina for solo bassoon (1966) emerged whilst the Dickinsons were staying in Paris in a house in which a bassoonist was practising on the top floor. Translations for recorder, gamba and harpsichord (1971) was written for David Munrow, Oliver Brooks and Christopher Hogwood, and includes a range of extended techniques, as Munrow believed that early music instruments should be available to today's composers.

Peter Dickinson is a British composer of the senior generation. There is nothing quite like his idiosyncratic music. Dickinson had a twenty-five-year recital partnership with his sister, the mezzo-soprano Meriel Dickinson. They gave recitals and broadcasts throughout Europe; they made first recordings of works by American and British composers, including Dickinson's own song cycles. Dickinson is an Emeritus Professor of two universities - Keele and London. He has always written widely, has given many BBC broadcasts, reviewed extensively for Gramophone, and has published several books - on Lennox Berkeley (two), Billy Mayerl, Aaron Copland, John Cage, Lord Berners and Samuel Barber. A collection of Dickinson's writings over a fifty-year period was published in Words and Music in 2016. He is chair of the Bernarr Rainbow Trust. The most important part of Dickinson's output is his own music which includes everything except opera. There are four CDs on the American label Albany; three more on Naxos; and seven CDs on Heritage of Dickinson's music or performances. This is the first of two CDs of his chamber music coming out this year.


Posted: 1 September 2018

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