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Champs Hill Records

Pavel Zemek Novak - 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano

An attractive batch for review from a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2009, and dedicated to recordings made at the Music Room at Champs Hill, a private 160-seat concert hall in West Sussex.

Most interesting to us of their latest is CHRCD016, 24 Preludes and Fugues by Pavel Zemek Novak (b. 1957) in four books with Biblical titles, played by William Howard, better known to us as the pianist of The Schubert Ensemble.

There are 47 pieces (preludes, fugues, postludes etc) some of them linked, and they evolved over 17 years. The commentary by composer David Matthews is rather general and most of the fugues are not immediately recognisable as such. There are quite a lot of "borrowings" incorporated from other composers.

Matthews advises thinking of Book Three as a set of variations upon Novak's Prelude No 13. (The Biblical connotations of the titles are not self-evident in the music itself.)

This is a significant work with a personal voice which made me itch to get some of the music under the hands to explore it more fully. Champs Hill Records has very kindly supplied e/copies of parts of the manuscript score, to be published in due course.

Recommended as special piano music, which would appeal, say, to readers who have followed our recommendation of Hans Otte's The Book of Sounds.

See too Pavel Zemek at http://www.czech-music.net/cm1-07.php#postmodern


Shapira Concierto Latino

Champs Hill Records CHRCD01

A "single" of a "latino-influenced" violin concerto is a winner.

Ittai Shapira is a rarity in modern times, a virtuoso violinist and composer, a combination not seen since the 1920s. A fresh, accessible piece, not to be spurned. It will be welcome anywhere in concert and the disc should do well on radio recordings programmes [].

Enjoyed and recommended.


Strauss Lieder - Gillian Keith with Simon Lepper
Champs Hill Records - for release May 2011

- Lieder Ohne Opus
- Fünf Lieder (Op.48)
- Drei Lieder (Op.69)
- Ständchen (Op.17 No.2)
- Muttertänderlei (Op.29 No.2)
- Das Bächlein (Op.88 No.1)
alongside many others

A very pleasing selection from R Strauss' prolific output for the female voice, with which he had an enduring love affair. There are some well known ones, and many less so, well chosen to suit Gillian Keith's pleasing voice.

Very enjoyable if you are not too fussed about imperfect German consonants, whch did not escape my Swiss German wife... All texts and translations are provided and the presentation is of a high standard.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See our earlier reviews of Champs Hill Records