William Howard has recently recorded a recital disc, featuring Mendelssohn's Rondo Capriccioso, Schubert's Impromptus in G flat and E flat, a selection from Schumann's Bunte Blätter, Chopin's Ballade in G minor and two works by David Matthews, both appearing on disc for the first time: his Four Portraits, written for William Howard in 2012, and The Shorter Ring, his brilliant 6-minute reduction of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
Paul Driver wrote the following review in the Sunday Times (June 29th 2014):
A thoughtful, poetic player, Howard has devised a recital sequence of uncommon appeal. It ranges from Mendelssohn's youthful, brilliant Rondo Capriccioso, Op14, to Wagner's entire Ring, as compressed by David Matthews into four mini movements, totalling six minutes, and beautifully incorporates mid-romantic lyrical masterpieces by Schubert, Schumann and Chopin. Matthews's own felicitous Four Portraits (one of which is of Howard himself) receives its first recording: and his stirring achievement in The Shorter Ring is such as to make one think Nietsche may have been right when he called Wagner 'our greatest miniaturist in music.'
William Howard writes about his choice of pieces for this CD:
The selection of music on this CD is very personal. I have chosen pieces which mean a lot to to me for a variety of reasons, and which I feel work well side by side. At the heart of this recording is Chopin's G minor Ballade, which I have loved since I was in my teens. I performed it in my first public solo recital in 1973 and have continued to study it ever since. More than any other piano work it has helped me to assess and to extend my own boundaries as a musician and as a performer. I envisage continuing to study it until the day I can no longer play. Most of the works that I have recorded here were written in a fourteen-year period, between 1827 and 1841. The exceptions are the two works by David Matthews, which are the most recent pieces of many that I have commissioned over the years. Playing works by living composers has been an extremely important part of my life as a performer, and throughout my career I have always made a point of programming contemporary works alongside music from the past. David's pieces also add to the personal flavour of this recital; in what is commonly known as a 'portrait recording' it seems appropriate to include his Four Portraits, which are musical representations of myself and three friends. The final piece, David's brilliant reduction of Wagner's Ring Cycle, was also written for a mutual friend.