This was Adrian Lord’s first appearance at Buxton Fringe and I certainly hope it won’t be his last, this was 45 minutes of shear bliss.
Adrian is an award-winning composer pianist from Cheshire, however we can claim him as one of our own as he used to reside in Chapel-en-le-Frith before hopping the county border.
He spellbound his audience by performing a selection of original compositions from his 2016 album ‘Journey – Twelve Romances for Piano’ and his 2018 album ‘Blue Sky Piano’, both recorded on a Steinway in Crear, Western Scotland. Buxton Methodist Church certainly did it justice with its wonderful acoustics.
Introducing each piece from this very personal collection provided an insight into the inspiration, which the audience could then translate through the music itself.
It was everything compositions should be: uplifting dramatic; haunting; and thoroughly relaxing. We got swept away with ‘Sky Blue’, then onto ‘Northern Lights’ which was written for his daughter Hannah, who has clearly inherited the artistic streak as her artwork for the album cover was fantastic. ‘True North’ was dedicated to his wife Donna as they married on the beach close to where the song was recorded in Scotland. Then came ‘A Million Words’, a tribute to his late father who bought him the piano he still composes on today. ‘Misty Isle’ you can check our yourself on YouTube along with imagery from Crear. My personal favourites were ‘Homecoming’ and ‘The Wedding’ which were utterly beautiful and very moving. The performance was then concluded with ‘Time to Remember’ dedicated to his mother who thankfully started him on his journey with the piano.
You certainly do not need to be a piano buff to appreciate and enjoy this event. You need this music in your life as it is the perfect way to switch off and wind down.
Please, please, please come back!
Thank you to piano teacher Joan Kaye in allowing me to publish her review of my sheet music books:
“Afternoon Adrian. I just thought I’d give you some feedback on your books. Having sight-read through them and then returned to study in more depth I have some thoughts on them - all positive!
From a personal point of view - fabulous intricate melodies and rhythm patterns plus those delicious flat keys and harmonies. The pieces explored the upper and lower octaves of the piano which really showed off my beautiful instrument in all its glory.
Some pieces were a challenge from a sight reading point of view when double flats and sharps entered the mix causing me to check I was playing the correct chords! A general lack of clutter regarding dynamics leans itself to self expression. These pieces will be propped up on my piano waiting to be played time and time again.
From a teaching point of view - plenty of examples of double thirds which for weaker fingers can be a challenge, so great for strengthening them. Lovely block chords - I might need to adapt the number of notes in them for smaller hands though. Complex rhythms for the more advanced, along with those fluctuating keys to see them on their toes. Crossing hands - always enjoyed by pupils, and “hidden” melodies helping them to balance the touch while one hand murmurs in the background.
All in all - fabulous and so different. Love them. 😁😁“
British pianist and composer Adrian Lord was born in Cheshire and had fortnightly lessons in piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester before studying for a music degree at Colchester Institute’s School of Music. Composition lessons with Alan Bullard and Christopher Ball followed and he is now an active performer, as a look at his website quickly shows.
He has composed twelve Romances, which he recorded at the acoustically superior Crear House on a Steinway Model D. Each one bears an evocative title and these narratively descriptive pieces, unpretentious and from the heart, are both rewarding and entertaining. The opening Prelude is especially warmly textured, with Lord’s trademark repeated bass figures and crisp, limpid and lively treble playing for maximal contrast. From delicate tracery to richly chorded breadth, this is a life-affirming piece. Journey has an admixture, in places, of Michael Nyman’s writing, though elsewhere it cleaves to the folkloric. He can also mine elements that enshrine a pop sensibility, albeit with moments of tristesse, as in Ripples. His favourite D flat major serves him at several points in this recital, most notably perhaps in the mellow richness of Footsteps, its ruminative element coming – I’m sure coincidentally – quite close to Lilac Wine at one point.
The Wedding is the most cherishably beautiful of the lyrical pieces to be encountered on this album – it was written for his own wedding day – but there is also the domestic-cum-nature setting of Wildfire to demonstrate that Lord is also inspired by topography and place. Other pieces enshrine more compact sensibilities: Little Star, written for his daughter, is tender, whilst Kaleidoscope has the mighty force of organ-like hymnal solemnity. Time to Remember was written as an envoi for his mother and it flows not as an elegy but more as a celebration.
It ends a charming and often touching album. These little pieces are wholly unpretentious and all the nicer for it. The sheet music is available to buy too.
I recently reconnected with an old school friend, pianist Adrian Lord, discovering he has just released a recording of his own Twelve Romances for Piano, entitled Journey. As the name would suggest, this is a very personal set of solo piano pieces, some inspired by significant places, such as childhood holidays in the Peak District, and travels in Scotland. The album was recorded in the stunning setting of a studio at Crear in Western Scotland, overlooking the Paps of Jura. This is a highly enjoyable and atmospheric short set of miniatures, with a common thread of rhythmic momentum and interest over simple harmonic progressions. The result is often very effective and engaging. There are clear references to family roots in the Lancashire mills, with spinning rhythms in ‘Blaize’ and ‘Revolutions’, and a similar sense of perpetual motion in the hypnotic opening ‘Prelude’. The pieces are united by their use of repetition and arpeggiated patterns, yet variety is achieved in imaginative use of dynamics, such as in the fiery sections of ‘Wildfire’, and the moving concluding ‘Time to Remember’, written in memory of his recently deceased mother. Adrian performs this personal collection with conviction, and the quasi-improvisatory nature of his compositions makes for very engaging listen.