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The English pianist William Howard has received acclaim for his albums of Dvořák, Fibich and Schumann. Following an Orchid Classics release of Sixteen Love Songs for Piano by Romantic-era musicians (ORC100056), Howard had the good idea to ask composers of today to exude affection in brief works. A competition in 2016 drew 526 entrants from 61 countries. Love must be overflowing among piano composers of our time.

Results include an alluringly obstinate, sinuous melody from the Tashkent-born Elena Kats-Chernin. From Taiwan’s Chia-Ying Lin, one of the competition prizewinners, comes a willful-sounding, domineering expression of all-conquering, if undomesticated, affection. From English composers, propulsive Latinate rhythms by Robert Saxton and an intriguing collage of Fauré and JS Bach by Bernard Hughes are featured. Howard plays all of these sympathetically. While more dismal selections portray love wiltingly, there is enough talent here to validate the project.

BENJAMIN IVRY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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