STEVENSON plays STEVENSON - Passacaglia on DSCH, original 1964 recording
Passacaglia on DSCH
British composer and pianist Ronald Stevenson was 80 in March 2008 and to celebrate we reissued his near legendary first recording of his magnum opus, the Passacaglia on DSCH. Originally issued in 1964 in a limited edition of 100 2LP sets, this performance has never since been available and has been much sought after by collectors.
Stevenson has remained somewhat outside the mainstream of British 20th century music as he has maintained the tradition of composer/pianist. He is a magnificent performer himself, and sees himself as most influenced by the likes of Busoni and Grainger.
Born in Lancashire he studied in Manchester but has lived for over 50 years in West Linton, Scotland.
The Passacaglia on DSCH has been described as the longest single movement in the piano literature (75' in this performance) and is based on a seven bar theme derived from the musical notes (in German notation) contained in the name Dmitri Schostakovich. The work was completed in 1962 and a copy presented to the Russian composer at the Edinburgh Festival that year. It is one of those works which seems much shorter than its length, such is the onward drive of its kaleidoscopically brilliant material. The countless variations include, amongst others, sections organised as suite, nocturne, pibroch, etudes and culminate in a triple fugue which combines the DSCH motive with BACH and the Dies Irae! This is a work in the tradition which runs from Bach's Art of Fugue through Busoni's Fantasia Contrapuntistica to Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum.