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Thu, 07 Mar



C. Bechstein Recital Series with Harry Bowden

From Debussy to original compositions and much more! We will be treated to an evening of music from the amazing young pianist, Harry Bowden.

C. Bechstein Recital Series with Harry Bowden
C. Bechstein Recital Series with Harry Bowden

Time & Location

07 Mar 2024, 18:30 – 19:30

Manchester, 7-9 Tib St, Manchester M4 1AD, UK

About the event

The evening's programme will consist of:

Nikolai Obukhov - Révélation (1915)

Nikolai Obukhov was a composer of the Russian avant-garde. Taking the music of late Scriabin as his departure, as well as the music of his teacher, Ravel, he developed his own personal, idiosyncratic language, notable for its religious mysticism and 12-tone system developed independently from Schönberg. Révélation was written before Obukhov’s departure from Russia when the composer was only 23 years old, yet already displays a remarkably original mind at work. His penchant for chords using all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, use of extreme registers of the piano and fragmentary writing is evident throughout the suite.

Claude Debussy - Images, Livre I (1901-1905)

Written simultaneously with another masterpiece of Impressionism, La mer, Claude Debussy’s first book of Images opens with another portrait of the water, in the same vein as Ravel’s Jeux d’eau or Ondine. It displays all of the hallmarks of Debussy’s own personal style: the piano as a full orchestra, melodic fragments, and use of modes, most notably the whole-tone scale. A subdued sarabande honouring the memory of French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, and a perpetuum mobile follow. Debussy’s writing for the piano in this suite is seen as revolutionary for its time and a decisive influence on composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, and the other composers in this programme.

Harry Bowden - Two Improvisations (2024)

The title of Improvisations attached to these pieces is perhaps misleading; despite their free and improvisatory nature, they are also in some ways tight and, perhaps, mathematical in structure. The first is a nocturne, a chorale with a bell-like motif repeating above. To derive the shape that this motif would take, I used the digits of pi as a series to determine both which notes would make up the pattern, as well as the number of notes in each iteration. The chorale underneath is the total opposite: free, drifting between modes. The second is what I would call a ‘fragment’ - a short, disjointed statement of ideas. Ideas each seem to grow from the ashes of the one previous, until it ends as quickly as it began.

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji - Nocturne: Djâmî (1928)

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji is one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood of 20th century composers. Most famous for the considerable length and technical difficulty of his works, some even lasting up to eight hours, the sensuous beauty and compositional genius of his music is often neglected. Nowhere is this more evident in his nocturnes, perhaps his most personal works, of which Djâmî, inspired by the poetry of mystic Persian poet Jami, is a prime example. The recurring pedal point through the work brings to mind the tolling bells, from Ravel’s Le Gibet; the Richard Strauss of Salome, Karol Szymanowski and most notably Debussy are also present in this work.

About Harry:

Harry Bowden is a seventeen year old pianist from Bolton. He began musical studies at six years old with the piano, and later the clarinet, and has now been attending the Junior RNCM for the last two years on the ABRSM scholarship, studying piano with jazz-classical pianist Les Chisnall, organ with Simon Mercer, as well as orchestral conducting and harpsichord. Over recent years, the piano has become his primary focus, and, during lockdown, he won first prize in both the XXVII Chopin Festival in Mazovia and the ‘Cittá di Arona’ International Piano Competition. More recently, Harry has been awarded with the JRNCM Joan Bamford Prize for Piano, and has won the JRNCM Concerto Competition. Harry also composes and his particular interest in the music of the 20th century has influenced this.

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