William Baines Piano Works
This is a very important issue indeed. The name William Baines may be unfamiliar to many readers but I would certainly place him among the major figures in English piano music in the early part of this century. The output he produced during his tragically short life – he succumbed to incipient tuberculosis at the age of 23 in 1922 – is truly phenomenal. Not only did he compose a remarkable amount of very fine and highly original piano music, but he also produced a Symphony, a concertante work for piano and orchestra (yet to be heard), a tone-poem entitled The Island of the Fay after an Edgar Allan Poe poem, as well as a dozen or so songs. To my knowledge this is only the second commercial recording ever made of his music (Eric Parkin also recorded a volume of piano music for Lyrita back in the 1970s, 5/72 – nla) so Priory are to be greatly applauded for their vision and enterprise in releasing this long overdue tribute.
One of the remarkable things about Baines is the rapidity with which he seemed to find a unique voice. He fell under the spell of Scriabin and Cyril Scott early on in his musical development – in fact he was one of the few composers to fully personalize Scriabin’s harmonic sound world – but one need only sample, say, the evocative seascape “Goodnight to Flambro” from Tides or the shimmering
Eric Parkin, who of course is no stranger to this music (having presented a good deal of Baines’s piano music on radio as well as the earlier Lyrita disc), plays beautifully and with conviction, and the recorded sound is good, if a little hard-edged in some of the more forceful passages. If you have the slightest interest in English music I urge you to explore this very rewarding disc which I hope will encourage other record companies to take up the cause.'