Alison Mathews: Landscapes

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Alison Mathews is a contemporary British composer whose delightful piano music has established itself as one of the highlights within the growing Editions Musica Ferrum catalogue.

I have previously given glowing reviews to her excellent Treasure Trove (for intermediate pianists, read the review) and Doodles (for elementary players, reviewed here).

Alison’s latest collection is aimed at the early advanced player. Landscapes: Poetic Piano Solos consists of 14 original compositions that would suit late intermediate players between around UK Grade 5-6 level.

Let’s take a look (and a listen!) …

The Compositions

Alison Mathews is a classically trained pianist, composer and private teacher based in Surrey, UK. A graduate of the Royal College of Music and Surrey University, she enjoys writing, composing and recording.

Dedicated to her father, these new pieces are composed in Mathews’ accessible contemporary style that blends elements of the popular “new classical” genre with hints of post-minimalism, impressionism and English pastoralism.

Thankfully I don’t need to search for further “isms” to describe these pieces, as Alison has made her own demo recordings of them, which she has shared freely on SoundCloud; you can listen to right here as you read on…

These tender, pastel pieces are as lovely to play as they are to listen to. Alison has a particular gift for exploring sonorous piano textures, while composing melodic pieces which I believe in this instance will be especially engaging for adult pianists playing for pleasure.

The Collection

Anyone familiar with Editions Musica Ferrum publications will know exactly what to expect here, but for those who haven’t yet explored this boutique publisher’s tremendous and refreshing catalogue, the book is printed on luxury thick cream paper with a lavish card cover (see image above).

Other than the title, contents and copyright pages, there’s no text here; the music itself consumes the remainder of the book’s 48 pages.

The notation is boldly and spaciously printed, with excellent clarity. Fingering suggestions are sometimes included, and are a helpful if slightly inconsistent addition; this is hardly an issue for players at this level of course.

Pedalling marks are included for a couple of pieces where a particularly impressionistic wash of colour is required. Elsewhere the pedalling is left to the player’s discretion.

It’s always impressive to see a publisher make an effort to produce something very special, and overall (as with all this publisher’s editions) the book feels like a high-quality product, and one to cherish for years to come.

The Conclusion

A number of my students have loved the imagination and variety found in Treasure Trove, and while Landscapes will appeal to a smaller catchment of more advanced players, and offers a more singular hue than the aforementioned gem, it is no less an impressive achievement which consolidates Alison Mathews’ growing reputation.

Editions Musica Ferrum must again be commended for their indefatigable commitment to providing a high-quality platform for upcoming composers. Their publications are a consistent delight, and Landscapes is no exception.

Have a listen to the recordings posted above, and you’ll undoubtedly know whether this collection is for you. With that in mind, and without further reservations, it is a joy to commend Landscapes.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.