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30 May 2024
Peter Seabourne: My Song in October

Karen Radcliffe (soprano)
Michael Bell (piano)

A powerful and wide-ranging disc pairing two autumnal works by British composer Peter Seabourne. The composer’s widely praised “Steps” piano cycle series now runs to ten volumes, almost 200 pieces – surely one of the most significant piano works of our time. Volume 8: “My Song in October” is described as “19 album leaves caught by the wind”, each piece inspired in various ways by poems on autumnal leaves. Written following the death of his wife, the artist Marcelle Seabourne in 2020, the emotional diversity is (perhaps surprisingly) wide. The earlier song cycle, “September, Just Septembers – 9 settings of Emily Dickinson”, is a perfect pairing, following a path from summer to winter. Pianist Michael Bell gives an extraordinarily intense and virtuosic account, joined by his late wife, the soprano Karen Radcliffe, in the songs. The disc acts as an “in memoriam” for two gifted women, both tragically “blown away” too young.


Peter Seabourne: Steps, Volume 8: My Song in October

I. Komorebi

II. How beautifully it falls

III. At the fall of the leaf

IV. When the leaves are flying

V. This leaf

VI. When the rose is dead

VII. The drifting leaf

VIII. One by one

IX. On the wings of the breeze

X. The leaves are falling

XI. Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!

XII. As a dead leaf

XIII. The wind scatters the golden leaves!

XIV. Every breath

XV. Listen…

XVI. After Autumn, Winter

XVII. The wind whispers in dry leaves

XVIII. This sprig of heather

XIX. Who'll toll the bell?

Peter Seabourne: September, Just Septembers: Nine songs to words of Emily Dickinson

I. They dropped like Flakes

II. I showed her Heights she never saw

III. Wild Nights!

IV. Midsummer

V. Nobody knows this little Rose

VI. She bore it

VII. Whether my bark went down at sea

VIII. The Sky is low

IX. Winter Afternoons

Sound Recording/editing: Peter Seabourne
Total Time: 75:10
Release Date: April 2024

Karen Radcliffe read Music and Classics at the University of Keele, holding the vocal scholarship there for three consecutive years, subequently studying with Paul Farrington and Jane Manning for a Masters in Modern Music. She was awarded a Concordia Scholarship for opera studies and participated in numerous masterclasses with Adrienne Czerny of the Liszt Academy and Dr. Stuart Burrows. Karen made her London début at the Purcell Room alongside Jane Manning and the Endymion Ensemble in the “Performers’ Choice Series”.

For twenty years she has worked in recital partnership with Michael Bell performing throughout Europe to much acclaim in an extensive repertoire encompassing Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Grieg, Berg, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Messiaen, Dallapiccola and Shostakovich. Orchestral performances included Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder, Mahler Symphony No. 4, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony; in addition to sacred works by Haydn, Mozart, Respighi, Poulenc; and vocal chamber works such as Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Britten’s Phaedra, and Berio’s Folksongs. Known for her advocacy of new music, she has given numerous premières including A Share of Night to Bear by Sorhab Uduman and the song cycle September, Just Septembers by Peter Seabourne.

Michael Bell (piano)Michael Bell is a distinguished pianist, and a widely respected pedagogue. Having studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derryck Wyndham and Sulamita Aronovsky, he was awarded a Chopin Fellowship from the Polish Government, enabling him to move to the State Academy in Warsaw. Subsequent national and international prizes led to numerous live concert performances and broadcasts on radio and TV throughout Europe, Australia and Africa.

More recent highlights have included concerts at London's Southbank Centre, in Bulgaria with the Sofia Philharmonic, and return invitations to the Kharkiv Assemblies Festival in Ukraine.

His solo repertoire is diverse and extensive, with recordings of solo works by Granados, Haydn, Grieg, Janacek, Seabourne, and of 20th Century English trios. Partnering clarinettist Victoria Samek, his disc of the complete duo works by Richard Rodney Bennett received much critical acclaim, as did his recording of Seabourne’s Steps Volume 3: Arabesques.

Michael Bell is also in demand as an acknowledged Lieder accompanist and is a member of the Chamber Players of London. A versatile and exciting musician, he has over thirty concertos in his repertoire, and has performed the complete Beethoven cycle. He has given premières of works dedicated to him by Peter Seabourne and Miroslav Spasov.

His playing is characterised by a vast palette of pianistic colour, great attention to articulation, and always the communication of an intensely personal vision.

SH326     View Booklet     UPC: 8033776713265

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