Notes on the performers
Yorkshire pianist and composer Neil Crossland began playing the piano at the age of six and studied at the Royal College of Music, where he won major prizes in both piano and composition. Since then he has performed extensively at home and abroad, and written pieces in all genres.
Neil has played at many major London venues, including the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth Hall. St John’s Smith Square, St Martin’s in the Fields, and frequent appearances at the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room. He has performed all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in a concert series at St James’ Piccadilly. He has also performed throughout the UK, in France, Greece, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Tunisia and recently in Singapore giving concerts of the unfinished Schubert Sonatas as well as workshops and masterclasses.
Neil has made over 20 recordings on the Deltatel label, including the complete cycle of the Beethoven piano sonatas, and works by Haydn, Schumann, Liszt, Rachmaninov, Ravel and Poulenc. Among his other projects has been to revive and record the piano compositions of astronomer Royal Sir Patrick Moore. He has appeared frequently on radio and television, including performing live on BBC Radio 3 and 4.
Friedrich Kuhlau (1786 – 1832)
Sonatina in A minor Op 88 No3
- Allegro con affetto (A minor)
- Andantino (F major)
- Allegro burlesco (A minor)
Kuhlau was a Danish pianist and composer during the late Classical and early Romantic periods. He was a central figure of the Danish Golden Age and is immortalized in Danish cultural history through his music for Elves’ Hill, the first true work of Danish National Romanticism and a concealed tribute to the absolute monarchy. To this day it is his version of this melody which is the definitive arrangement.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No 4 in E flat major Op 7
- Allegro molto e con brio
- Largo con gran espressione
- Rondo: Poco allegretto e grazioso
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 4, in E♭ major, Op. 7, sometimes nicknamed the Grand Sonata, was written in November 1796 and dedicated to his student Babette, the Countess Keglević. The sonata was composed during Beethoven’s visit to the Keglevich Palace. Beethoven named it Great Sonata, because it was published alone, which was unusual for the time.
Along with the Hammerklavier Sonata, it is one of the longest piano sonatas that Beethoven composed.
Piano Suite Op 1
Written in my first year at the Royal College of Music (1988) Piano Suite Op 1 is in Four short movements. First premiered at College by Julian Saphier. My composition teacher Edwin Roxburgh wanted me to change my style from pastiche to more contemporary and this was my first attempt at writing modern music. At the time I was learning Bartok’s Piano Suite Op 14 with my piano professor Peter Wallfisch, I used this piece as a roll model to help me get started. When writing the third movement I felt as if I was writing something that I’d heard before. It was a few days later that realised that my thematic idea was from a song called Umpa, Umpa (Stick it up Your Jumper)
Today’s recital gives me the opportunity in performing my Piano Suite in public for the first time. I hope that you like it!
Nocturnes Nos 4, 13 & 15
Frédéric Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes for solo piano between 1827 and 1846. They are generally considered among the finest short solo works for the instrument and hold an important place in contemporary concert repertoire. Although Chopin did not invent the nocturne, he popularized and expanded on it, building on the form developed by Irish composer John Field.
Chopin’s fourth nocturne (Nocturne in F major, Op. 15, No. 1) is in simple ternary form (A–B–A). The first section, in F major, features a very simple melody over a descending triplet pattern in the left hand. The middle section in F minor, in great contrast to the outer themes, is fast and dramatic (Con fuoco) using a challenging double note texture in the right hand. After a return to the serene A theme, the ending does not contain a coda, but rather two simple arpeggios. Some critics have remarked that this nocturne has little to do with night, as if sunlight is “leaking from the piece’s seams.”
The thirteenth nocturne (Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1) is one of the more well known nocturnes, and has been categorized as one of Chopin’s greatest emotional achievements. Theodor Kullak said of the piece, “the design and poetic contents of this nocturne make it the most important one that Chopin created; the chief subject is a masterly expression of a great powerful grief.” Jan Kleczyński Sr. calls the nocturne “broad and most imposing with its powerful intermediate movement, a thorough departure from the nocturne style.”
The Nocturnes, Op. 55 are a set of two nocturnes for solo piano written by Frédéric Chopin. They are his fifteenth and sixteenth installations in the genre, and were composed between 1842 and 1844, and published in August 1844. Chopin dedicated them to his pupil and admirer Mademoiselle Jane Stirling.