Ronald Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH; Bax & Pizzetti Variations; etc.

Music of extraordinary range and power composed at the dawn of the Space Age, Ronald Stevenson’s Passacaglia on DSCH was long claimed as the biggest single stretch of music ever written for piano. It is a veritable world tour of styles as well as a single-minded exploration of its generating motif, and rising star James Willshire has the technique and vaulting ambition to match both the work’s grandeur and its immense wealth of detail. Willshire gave the 1955 Variations on a Theme of Pizzetti its belated concert premiere in 2012, while the later Fugue, Variations and Epilogue on a Theme by Arnold Bax crystallises Stevenson’s lifelong devotion to a Celtic aesthetic as well as his innovative approach to variation technique. A clutch of shorter works completes the picture, foregrounding aspects of Stevenson’s charm, wit and grace.