Join Clare Hammond, “a pianist of extraordinary gifts” (Gramophone) and students from the RNCM’s School of Keyboard Studies for an evening showcasing contemporary music for piano, most of it written by Head of Composition at RNCM, Adam Gorb.
It’s not just Gramophone who are hearty in their praise of Hammond. The Times call her “a player of immense power”; the Observer “a star interpreter of contemporary music”. An alumnus of Cambridge University, Hammond won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Award in recognition of outstanding achievement and in 2020 she was engaged to perform in the International Piano Series at the Southbank Centre. Carving out an illustrious career as both a solo artist and a collaborator with some of the finest orchestras in the world, Hammond recently released a recording of Adam Gorb’s Preludes (Toccata Records), to yet more acclaim.
And it’s those wonderful Preludes we’ll hear tonight. Adam Gorb himself studied at Cambridge University, before becoming a prominent feature of musical life in Manchester for two decades and counting. His compositions include orchestral, ensemble, chamber, solo and choral works, and have been performed, broadcast and recorded worldwide. Of course it’s his piano music that we’re interested in tonight, and his 24 Preludes shine brightly among his works written for the instrument. In the words of Martin Anderson, Executive Producer at Toccata Classics:
“The 24 Preludes of Adam Gorb follow the examples of Chopin and Shostakovich in describing a cycle of fifths – though his descend, whereas Chopin’s and Shostakovich’s go up. As with those earlier exemplars, and also the preludes of Debussy, Rachmaninov and others, Gorb’s are miniature studies of personality and mood – charming, brittle, perky, languorous, bat-flight fast, borderline violent or tender, as required.”
But it’s not only the music of Gorb we’ll hear in this concert; we’ll also be treated to the very different flavours of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Chaconne. The Soviet-Russian composer once struggled in obscurity, her music officially rebuffed by government-controlled cultural institutions for more than two decades after she graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. It was deemed “unacceptable” in part because of the overtly spiritual themes Gubaidulina drew upon for inspiration, but that same emotional resonance in her music has brought her an appreciative international audience. Chaconne, dating from 1962, is an early work, and one of intense chromaticism, projecting matters of determination and conflict, exhilaration and exhaustion.
It caps off a great programme, which anyone with an interest in the piano, contemporary music or both will get a lot from.
The concert forms part of RNCM’s packed Summer Season, which you can read more about in our dedicated guide.