Murray McLachlan: Gregson: Complete Piano

This is an appealing collection of piano pieces. It takes in different styles and sounds, and ranges from the intimate to the more extravagantly romantic, but it’s got a definite charm throughout.

It gets off to a cheery start with An Album For My Friends, 11 pieces written for friends and showing a love of alliteration, from Adam’s Allemande to Phil’s Postlude by way of Gaynor’s Gavotte, Gavin’s Gigue and Stefan’s Sarabande. You might not know the people but Edward does, so Gregson’s Garrulousness shines through. Gregson said the idea came from writing one as a 60th birthday present, the challenge being to write a set of pieces that would be technically suitable for both young and mature pianists.

Elsewhere, A Song for Sue was an engagement present for his wife-to-be while Four Pictures was written for his sons, untitled so that the performers (the children) can imagine their own “pictures”.

The programme also includes three piano études, from “not too slow, gently” to “fast, with energy”; the personal contributed to the writing again, as the first was written as a tribute to Mark Ray, former head of keyboard studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, who died in 2006. The second is dedicated to McLachlan. As well as McLachlan, Rose McLachlan and Gregson himself play.

This is easy to listen but also technical. Some places you think should be harder on the ear but thanks to the personal nature of the music, it never is: a present of horrible music is no present at all.

This is out on Naxos, 8574222.

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