Album review: Peter Maxwell Davies, Piano Works 1949-2009 (Prima Facie)


Though best known for his large-scale works, this anthology suggests that in his own way, Peter Maxwell Davies may be as distinctive a piano miniaturist as Erik Satie. His Orkney home is clearly the biggest influence in this regard: works such as “Three Sanday Places”, “Snow Cloud, over Lochan”, “Yesnaby Ground” and the popular “Farewell to Stromness” are simple but deeply satisfying evocations of place, weather and character. Elsewhere, “Six Secret Songs” and “Five Little Pieces for Piano” are sketches of Borgesian brevity, some condensing impressive development into a tiny frame, while others have the impromptu manner of cartoons. Considerably more complex is the engrossing seven-part “Piano Sonata”.

Download: Farewell to Stromness; Yesnaby Ground; Three Sanday Places; Piano Sonata