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John McCabe was a British composer, pianist, occasional conductor and enthusiastic administrator who died earlier this year. As a composer who wrote in almost every genre, his output was prolific. His mature style was characterised by dramatic post-tonalism and vivid orchestration, combined with both accessibility and integrity. As a concert pianist, he recorded and performed widely; his recordings of Haydn's complete piano sonatas are recognised as a landmark achievement.

This month's new release features John McCabe in the dual roles of pianist and composer, and is a perfect illustration of why he was held in such high regard in both of them. He also served as president of the British Music Society from 1989 until 2014. This new release is the latest in a series of the society's reissues and new recordings on the Naxos label.

Naxos 8.571367
McCABE, J.: Piano Music - Variations, Op. 22 /
Studies No. 3, 4 and 6 / 5 Bagatelles / Haydn Variations


John McCabe was a composer-pianist who excelled internationally in both fields. For his own instrument he wrote a distinguished series of works in which variation form is a recurrent feature. Seventeen years separate the Variations, Op. 22, described by John Ogdon as standing “closer to Rachmaninov’s use of variation technique than to Brahms’s”, and the masterly, unorthodox and original Haydn Variations, McCabe’s longest solo piano work. The evocative Bagatelles and Studies are notable for their unceasing exploration of pianistic and compositional techniques.

Listen to an extract from 5 Bagatelles:
No. 2 Aria

Visions: Choral Music
BBC Singers, Iain Farrington, David Hill

“The chorus, the redoubtable BBC Singers, is as perfect as one would expect in technique, tone, and expression, and David Hill … has outdone himself here in the imaginative and perceptive shaping of these choral gems. It doesn’t get better than this.”

  Listen to an extract from
Mangan Triptych:
I. Visions

Symphony No. 1 / Liszt Fantasy / Studies / Tuning
London Philharmonic,
National Youth Orchestra of Scotland
John Snashall, John McCabe

“This is an excellent new release from Naxos that should command the attention of all enthusiasts of British music.”
MusicWeb international

  Listen to an extract from
Symphony No. 1, Elegy:
II. Dance: Allegro molto

Other recordings from the British Music Society

Robert STILL
String Quartets Nos. 1-4

“No praise can be too high for these sublimely articulate and concentrated readings by the Villiers Quartet. Admirable sound and balance, too.”
- Gramophone

  Listen to an extract from
String Quartet No. 2:
III. Allegro vivo

Piano Music, various composers
Malcolm Smith Memorial Album

“[This is] not only extremely entertaining but also a fine memorial to a much-missed publisher.”
- International Record Review

  Listen to an extract from
Robert Matthew-Walker's
Piano Sonata No. 3, “Fantasy Sonata: Hamlet”

Music for cello and piano
Various composers

“This is some of the best playing I have heard from Wallfisch, who displays total commitment and control…this recital is highly recommended.”
- Fanfare

  Listen to an extract from
Leighton's Partita:
Variation III: March

Symphony No. 1 /
Cello Concerto /
Prelude to a Fantasy

“…this excellent disc demonstrates just what an impressive and powerful composer Standford was.”
- MusicWeb International

String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 /

“This disc is a winner
from start to finish…”
- Fanfare

Arnold COOKE
Sonatas for Violin, Viola, Cello

“Another invaluable Naxos release, showcasing a major Tippett contemporary, whose neo-classical drive and poise comes alive in such devoted performances.”
- BBC Music Magazine ★★★★

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