David Jennings: Music for Piano / James Willshire, piano

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This Divine Art CD contains the entirety of young British composer David Jennings' piano music, all written between 1985 and 2010. Born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1972, Jennings studied composition at Durham University and again at Manchester University at the postgraduate level. The music is performed by British pianist James Willshire.

Jennings' music generally has a romantic beauty to it. He writes in recognizable forms - this album contains three sonatinas, a sonata and several suites for piano - and develops his material in traditional ways. The music is almost always tonal and has a generally positive, sunny outlook; it can be out-and-out jubilant at times. As attractive as Jennings' music is, it is also music of substance; none of it is fluff, and there's a clear sense that the composer has meticulously made this so. Roughly halfway through comes a work that is quite different from the rest, the Prelude and Fugue, Op. 6. Written subsequent to "newer musical influences encountered at university" (the composer), the Prelude is a twelve-tone composition; although he didn't follow this path, his harmonies tend to be more complex in works that followed, perhaps as a result of the experiment.

The sample from the album provided is the concluding Finale: Presto vivace of Jennings' Piano Sonata, Op. 1. This movement shows a greater influence of jazz than is typical across the nearly 80 minutes of music on the CD, but is representative enough to tell you if you will enjoy the music.