Spanish Dance by Nicholas Wilton, performed by Alexei Knupffer.
Read the Review in Fanfare
N. WILTON Toccata in d, op. 2.Spanish Dance in A, op. 3. Waltzes Nos. 1-6 Alexei Knupffer (pn) PHILANGELUS 2 (16:38)
A young composer based in England, Nicholas Wilton has previously achieved success with his disc of sacred choral music (see http://www.catholicmusic.co.uk/index.html). His music is deceptively simple. Here, in a disc dedicated to his mother and father, are eight short pieces (the playing time above is correct).
The accompanying commentary to the disc states modestly that this is a "short recording of a few miniatures for piano for those who might like them". The miniatures are impeccably championed by the evidently highly musical pianist, Alexei Knupffer. The program note also openly acknowledges that Wilton wears his major influences on his sleeve, and such is the case. Chopin and Scarlatti cast the longest shadows, while Shostakovich, Beethoven and Liszt lurk in the background (sometimes in the far background).
The short recital begins with the D-Minor Toccata, where it is surely Scarlatti that feeds the compositional hand (both texture and gesture point to this). The melancholy Spanish Dance in A (perhaps pointing towards Albéniz) is geographically specific in demeanour but more, it holds a key to Wilton's methodology: that of a Satie-esque way of making the most of ostensibly simple gestures.
The Waltzes speak most strongly of the influence of Chopin (the second, the F-Minor, in particular, to my ears, and the Fourth, in a hyper-melancholy C-Minor: though the ending of the latter piece, a question mark in music, points more towards the enigmantic Satie again). The Waltzes speak, also, of a gentle soul at work here, but a soul that is entirely unafraid to speak its own truth. Accusations of being derivative are inevitable, perhaps, but careful listening reveals deeper truths. The charming innocence of the opening of the third Waltz (G-Minor) is perhaps allied to the technique of emotional Rückblick that one encounters in Schumann's Kinderszenen, and even as Wilton's Waltz opens out emotionally, it remains overshadowed by its opening.
The only Waltz to demonstrate any real sort of assertiveness, and then briefly, is the Fifth (A flat-Minor). The final B-Minor rides the tightrope of playful and melancholy with consummate expertise, ending with a firm gesture; yet, nevertheless, we are left wanting more.
The recording is quite close, but that is not inappropriate for music of this ilk. Fascinating. It is worthwhile pointing out, also, that one can experience Wilton's choral music against video images of the great Florentine master Fra Angelico at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRkiBQJ87X4
Wilton's recording can be purchased at https://www.tutti.co.uk/search?q=wilton+piano. Colin Clarke
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