Ronald Center: Instrumental and Chamber Music, Volume One

Catalogue No: TOCC0179
EAN/UPC: 5060113441799
Release Date: 2013-09-02
Composer: Ronald Center
Artists: Christopher Guild

Ronald Center (1913-73) is sometimes described as 'the Scottish Bartók', and his music does indeed capture some of the wild energy of the Scottish landscape in a style of Bartókian asperity. It also shows affinities with the music of Busoni, Debussy, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Vaughan Williams, absorbed into an individual style that is audibly Scots. Center wrote with striking concision and meticulous craftsmanship, his works encompassing a wide range of emotions — heart-felt sorrow, grim humour, relaxed lyricism, dark despair — in a crisp and succinct manner, animated by sharp wit and irony.

Christopher Guild, piano

Listen To This Recording:

    Piano Sonata (c. 1958)

  1. I Allegro molto
  2. II Adagio
  3. III Andante – Presto ed appassionato – Allegro
  4. IV Molto allegro
  5. Six Bagatelles, Op. 3

  6. No. 1 Poco adagio e teneramente
  7. No. 2 Allegro
  8. No. 3 Mesto
  9. No. 4 Energico e ritmico
  10. No. 5 Andantino (tempo rubato)
  11. No. 6 Vivo
  12. Andante
  13. Sarabande
  14. Air
  15. Pantomime (1950s)

  16. No. 1 Pantaloon
  17. No. 2 Columbine
  18. No. 3 Harlequin
  19. Larghetto
  20. Sonatine

  21. I Allegro
  22. II Poco adagio (tempo rubato)
  23. III Vivace
  24. Hommage
  25. Three Etudes

  26. No. 1 Presto
  27. No. 2 Andante
  28. No. 3 Allegro molto
  29. Impromptu
  30. Three Movements for Piano

  31. No. 1 Prelude (Allegro)
  32. No. 2 Poco adagio
  33. No. 3 Toccata (Allegro molto)

5 reviews for Ronald Center: Instrumental and Chamber Music, Volume One

  1. :

    ‘…some bright spark did call him “The Scottish Bartók”. The notes suggest, quite wisely I feel, the “Scottish Prokofiev”… In fact the elusive Hommage is dedicated to the memory of Claude Debussy whom Center greatly loved indeed it has a touch of ‘Feux d’artifice’ about it towards the end. …There is much here to attract the attention and maintain emotional and musical interest. …This is a well recorded disc with a bloom but a natural sound. The Scottish pianist Christopher Guild is a fine advocate for this music.’

    —Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International

  2. :

    ‘…There are intimations of the percussive spikiness of Prokofiev, the folk idioms and harmonies of Bartok, the simplicity of Poulenc, the wit and humour of Shostakovich, and the sensuality and stately parallel harmonies of Claude Debussy (in a work entitled ‘Hommage’ which is dedicated to Debussy). Hints of Scottish airs make intriguing appearances in the music, reminding us of the composer’s heritage… An excellent introduction to Ronald Center’s oeuvre.’

    —Frances Wilson, The Cross-Eyed Pianist

  3. :

    ‘Christopher Guild plays with clarity, an assured touch and the capacity to capture the atmosphere of each piece.’


  4. :

    ‘This is a very enjoyable recital… The program notes refer to Center at the Scottish Bartók, but I would characterize his use of native folk music more along the genial, but still adventuresome, manner of Grieg. Yes, there is some spikiness here and there, but mainly Center’s music is brisk, rich, and tuneful. …Much of the music, even the smaller pieces, sounds highly virtuosic, and so hats off to the superb young Scottish pianist Christopher Guild for taking this on.’

    —Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine

  5. :

    ‘All this music is played by Scottish pianist Christopher Guild. It is a superb performance from start to finish. He captures the imaginative style of Ronald Center’s music, especially in the contrasting ‘catastrophe’ section. The sound quality is ideal.

    I enjoyed every piece on this CD. I do not know why I missed this release back in 2013 but am exceptionally glad to have caught up with it in the dying days of 2019. The cover of the CD states that this is Volume 1 of Ronald Center’s ‘Instrumental and Chamber Music’: seven years later, we are still awaiting Volume 2. Roll on…’

    —John France, MusicWeb International

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