William Howard's new recording of Sixteen Love Songs for solo piano will be released on the Orchid Classics label in June 2016. The album features some of the most beautiful and memorable pieces in the romantic piano repertoire, many of which have become well known through film scores, arrangements and popular songs.
In the following note, William Howard explains the origins of the album:
Particular pieces inspired me to put this collection together. It was over thirty years ago that I bought an old second hand copy of Josef Suk’s Love Song in a music shop in Prague on one of many visits to communist Czechoslovakia. I fell in love immediately with this gorgeous and passionate piece and wondered why it was not better known. At the same time I started including in my recital programmes works by another Czech composer, Zdeněk Fibich. He was almost entirely unknown to audiences in the UK in the 1980s, and yet after every performance some older members of the audience would always come back stage to ask why one of the pieces was so familiar. It took me several years to find out that Fibich’s Poème had been a popular hit in the 1930s with the title My Moonlight Madonna. Czech composers of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth made particularly touching personal or autobiographical statements in music, which is how half of these sixteen songs come to be from Czechoslovakia. Schubert’s Serenade has always haunted me (and I love Liszt’s reverent arrangement of the song) and so too Granados’s heart-rending lament The Maiden and the Nightingale. Many other of the pieces have been favourite concert pieces of mine for decades.
Following the launch of the album, William Howard plans to commission sixteen contemporary love songs for solo piano. More news about this project soon!