Complete Piano Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams


Complete Piano Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams 

The Lake in the Mountains for solo piano
Introduction and Fugue for two pianos *
'Ach bleib' bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ'  JS Bach BVW 649 arr. Vaughan Williams for solo piano 
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for two pianos (arranged by Maurice Jacobson and Vaughan Williams)
Hymn Tune Prelude on 'Song 13' (Orlando Gibbons) for solo piano
Fantasia on Greensleeves – Piano duet --  adapted from the Opera 'Sir John in Love' *
A Little Piano Book (solo piano)
Suite of Six Short Pieces for piano solo

Mark Bebbington solo piano
Mark Bebbington & Rebeca Omordia, two pianos/piano puet

* World Premiere Recordings

"Bebbington dazzles technically with his scintillating playing and thrilling passagework, but he also brings touches of exquisite poetry to Gershwin’s inspired lyricism…the performances here are quite outstanding, and the Eight Preludes, let it be remembered, are new to disc and shouldn’t be missed. " Jerry Dubins, Fanfare USA

 After his ‘hop across the Atlantic’ for his all-Gershwin disc (MusicWeb International “Recording of the Month”), Mark Bebbington returns to the English fare for which he is best-known, with the (non-orchestral) Complete Vaughan Williams Piano Music, to be released in February 2017 by Somm Recordings.  The release contains world premiere recordings, notably the Introduction and Fugue. In this work, and in the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, both written for two-pianos, Bebbington is joined by Rebeca Omordia.

The Tallis Fantasia in its original string version is an evergreen English work, repeatedly topping Classic FM’s listener surveys of favourite pieces. Of its two-piano version, Bebbington says, “Liszt had established the tradition of transcribing orchestral or operatic works for piano, thereby ensuring a wider currency for the music. In transcribing the Fantasia for two pianos rather than one, Vaughan Williams was restricting its practical possibilities; so it is reasonable to assume that he meant the work to be used as concert repertoire and not for ‘domestic’ use in the home, where the parlour piano (but only one!) was still a part of everyday life.” In the transcription, believes Bebbington, the textures are now leaner, the polyphony clearer.

 Written in 1947, the transcription was perhaps intended for the famous two-piano team Phyllis Sellick (a friend and teacher of Bebbington) and Cyril Smith, the duo for whom the composer also that same year wrote the Introduction and Fugue. Says Bebbington, “Vaughan Williams wrote the Introduction and Fugue concurrently with the Sixth Symphony – a work which shocked the musical world with its undisguised brutality and modernism, and this piano work belongs to the same musical aesthetic. And to write a fugue of this complexity and of 14 minutes’ duration for four hands on two pianos is no mean achievement!

“The various ‘episodes’ in the Fugue present contrasting moods – a lovely one in F major gives us a glimpse of the composer in bucolic mood – but the overall sense is psychologically dark and searching. He exploits the extremes of the piano register for maximum expressive effect, giving a sense of duress that lends it a truly epic quality.”

The other solo works on the recording include the Suite of Six Short Pieces which, though better known in its later version for strings (Charterhouse Suite), started life as a solo piano suite. “The original,” says Bebbington, “captures the colour and diverse moods and caprices of the music.” The Six Little Teaching Pieces are a model of early-stage piano tuition raised to the highest artistic level. And the three miniatures - The Lake In The Mountains, Hymn Tune Prelude and Bach Chorale and Chorale Prelude transcription - inhabit a world of spiritual serenity that, says the pianist, “show how deeply Vaughan Williams had absorbed the counterpoint of JS Bach alongside the ‘new’ music of Ravel and Debussy.”

This is the latest in Bebbington’s much-admired series of recordings of British piano music, all for Somm Recordings – including among them the complete piano music of John Ireland, Arthur Bliss and Frank Bridge. It was recorded at the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham in March 2015.


Mark Bebbington is one of the UK’s leading pianists. He has made more than 30 recordings for Somm, including his renowned surveys of British piano music, as well as Mozart concerti, music by Castelnuovo-Tadesco and a recent all-Gershwin release. Among the acclaim, he has received seven consecutive five-star reviews from BBC Music Magazine and his 2016 Gershwin disc was named “Recording of the Month” by MusicWeb International. In concert, Bebbington plays a wide range of repertoire and has appeared at some of the world’s finest venues (from Carnegie Hall to Cadogan Hall) and with many major orchestras, among them the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Royal Flanders Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Romanian-born Rebeca Omordia was awarded the Delius Prize in 2009, which led to an extensive tour with the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. She has performed widely, including a tour of the music of John Ireland. Partly of Nigerian descent (through her father) she is a great advocate for Nigerian classical music and has performed piano works by Nigerian composers at the 2015 Bradfield Festival, at the 2013 African and African-American Music Festival in St Louis (USA) and for the African Union’s 50th Anniversary Concert in London. She has performed with well-known artists including, as well as Mark Bebbington, Amy Dickson, Raphael Wallfisch, Razvan Suma and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber.

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