S&H review

Spectrum 3 BBC Radio Theatre, London, 23 May 2001 (PGW)

Outreach is reaching ever further out. S&H celebrates the results of a trawl of 1000 singers auditioned by Charles Hazelwood in South Africa; the best of them are currently showing London something special at Wilton's Music Hall. Thalia Myers' award winning brainchildren Spectrum & Spectrum 2 arose from her concern at the dearth of good contemporary piano music by British composers (and others resident in Britain) which would be technically accessible for students and non-professional pianists. Now she has ventured farther afield for an international collection, which is close to the concerns and mission statement of Seen&Heard when it was launched, and shows how distinguished composers from around the world, many of them well known to UK listeners, have absorbed and adapted traditions of Western classical music.

Spectrum 3 has twenty-five pieces commissioned from twenty-five composers from twenty-five countries and S&H was invited to its publication celebration. Launched at the BBC Radio Theatre in London by ABRSM & Thalia Myers, there were discussions and seminars, and the pieces were played by Latvia's Peteris Plakadis, British prizewinner Sarah Nichols, Thalia Myers herself and several younger and non-professional pianists. Her brief again had been that the selected composers should pare their music down to one or two pages, yet without sacrificing or compromising the essentials of their individual styles, a not easy task. The 50 Spectrum + Spectrum 2 pieces are available on NMC's CD, D057 and now all the new ones, played as before by Thalia Myers, are released by Metronome on MET CD 1053.

The importance of this ongoing venture cannot be overstated; these three Spectrum volumes will help musicians and audiences of the future to become comfortable with playing and hearing music of their own time, as was usual in the 18th Century.

Hopefully CMOTW will find a reviewer for the CD prepared to research each of these 25 composers, and able to give some impression of the sound of their music here in comparison with other composers and with their own works. But meanwhile, do buy Spectrum 3 from ABRSM Publishing publishing@abrsm.ac.uk and study this treasure trove at the keyboard.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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