Hugh Benham writes: ‘For Piano is a collection of pieces composed in a broadly classical style. It explores the variety of colour, sound and tone achievable from one of the most versatile of all instruments, and is designed to be accessible to a wide range of players and listeners.’
This is a delightful CD: chock-full of invention. Despite being described by the composer as ‘in a broadly classical style’, this is never mere pastiche, but containing moments of rare beauty which I found immensely enjoyable. The nineteen tracks covers a wide range of styles: a Sonatina, a three- movement Sonata, a charming Suite of ‘-ings’ (Aspiring, Recollecting etc.) and miscellaneous items including a Barbara Allen duet. What impresses most is the subtle range of Dr Benham’s textures and tonality; while never venturing too far away from traditional harmonies, the hand of a master contrapuntalist is never far away! These pieces were composed between 2015 and 2021 and so quite a few of the more recent ones were conceived and created during the first lockdown. One favourite is Mice on the Farm which was written in 2021 as a gift for his grandchildren; it incorporates a number of familiar nursery rhymes, skilfully dressed up and harmonised in a most attractive fashion.
The CD includes an excellent set of programme notes which give a description of each piece in detail: clearly approached from the analytical mind of the composer! The recording, made on a 2019 Steinway model D, is clear and placed in a suitably resonant studio acoustic.