Prima Facie Records
CD label featuring world premières by British composers
Prima Facie Records was formed by the meeting of two minds – Stephen Plews and the late Giles Easterbrook – both known in the music industry as champions of new music. They have produced or promoted hundreds of projects, many of which have won awards or been recognised as outstanding contributions to the arts.
Metamorphosis (PFCD191) £12.50
Contemporary Music for Harpsichord Volume 1 – performed by Duncan Honeybourne
The 20th-century revival of the harpsichord initially enabled the playing of 17th and 18th century keyboard music on the instrument for which it was originally composed. But its sound gradually began to inspire 20th-century composers, and a contemporary repertoire of original harpsichord music developed.
The harpsichord’s contemporary repertoire has grown steadily, and in the third decade of the 21st century, composers are continuing to find inspiration from the instrument and its players. Having a contemporary repertoire has indeed enabled the harpsichord to achieve a maturity in which it is heard and appreciated in a way that enhances its long history and heritage, of which the music on the CD is especially representative.
Features compositions by Malcolm Lipkin, Kenneth Leighton, John McCabe and Ronald Stevenson.
For more details of Metamorphosis, please see the CD web page
Pasture and Storm (PFCD193) £12.50
New Music for Left Hand Piano and Ensembles
Composed by Sadie Harrison
The Pasture & Storm Project brings together the composer Sadie Harrison, three pianists in Nicholas McCarthy, Sophia Benton and Tomáš Klement, the singer Peyee Chen, flautist Stephanie Gilbert, violinist Roger Huckle, and the Bristol Ensemble, conducted by John Pickard. The CD includes 8 new works written to celebrate the unique talents of the left-hand-only pianist.
The project came about initially through Sadie’s teaching the young pianist Sophia Benton. At school Sophia suffered a netball injury which eventually left her unable to play the piano with her right hand. Extraordinarily, a few weeks after meeting Sophia, Sadie met two people at her local gym, both rehabilitating after having strokes affecting their right sides and both amateur pianists. After inviting the internationally renowned virtuoso, left-hand-only pianist Nicholas McCarthy, to be part of the project, Sadie embarked on the composition of several new works – solo pieces, a chamber concerto, a piano quartet with percussion, piano duets, duos, and an extended song cycle. All these works, written during 2020-21, are presented on the CD.
For more details of Pasture and Storm, please see the CD web page
Penllyn (PFCD188) £12.50
The collected solo piano music of Peter Reynolds
Pianist Duncan Honeybourne
"This disc is dedicated to the memory of a very fine composer and good friend, Peter Reynolds. His unexpected death in 2016 was felt far and wide amongst his friends and colleagues, and has left a gap not only in the world of contemporary classical music, and in the academic realms of music education, but also in many peoples’ lives too. This exceptionally unassuming man was a very fine composer and an avid supporter of other musicians, both as a teacher and as a champion of performances and recordings of new and neglected works.
Penllyn is the culmination and premiere recording of not only all of Peter’s found works for solo piano, which needed tracking down at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and at Tŷ Cerdd in Cardiff, but is also an outpouring of love from many of those who knew Peter best. So many of his friends and past students have come together to enable this recording project to come to fruition. Wherever you are now Peter, we hope that you’re happy with this disc. You are sorely missed!"
For more details of Penllyn, please see the CD web page
Magna Carta (PFCD184) £12.50
The Complete Works for Guitar of John Brunning
Performed by Xuefei Yang with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Clark Rundell
A Classic FM Album of the Week
A Spotify Pick
A UK Official Specialist Classical Chart Top 5 Recording
This album features John Brunning’s complete works for guitar. At its heart is the world premiere recording of his Concerto Magna Carta, written for Xuefei Yang, and performed with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Clark Rundell.
Xuefei is again joined by the RLPO for the Five Romances in new arrangements for guitar and orchestra; and by cellist Johannes Moser for Lacrimosa in a duet for guitar and cello - also premiere recordings for these settings of the material.
With her previous album, ‘Sketches of China’, Xuefei brought the traditional music of her homeland to a wider international audience, and this latest release finds her highlighting the musical traditions of the British Isles.
Xuefei Yang: "I first met John many years ago when he interviewed me for a music magazine. It was one of my very first interviews in the UK and I remember it vividly because he asked in-depth questions that demonstrated that he knew the guitar well. In our conversation I discovered that as well as being a radio presenter, he was also a guitarist and composer. I asked him to send me some scores, and discovered that John has a talent for writing beautiful melodies in the great tradition of English pastoral music, and being a guitarist himself, his music feels very natural to play. Over the years I have recorded and performed some of John’s music, and find audiences across the globe, and other musicians, enjoy his music. When he suggested writing a concerto for me, I thought it would create an opportunity to bring together all his works for guitar."
For more details of Magna Carta, please see the CD web page
Imaginem (PFCD186) £12.50
composer John Michael Franklin
– pianist Laura Serra
‘Imaginem’ is a collection of classical compositions by an unknown composer, John Michael Franklin, the true musical story of an ordinary man who has lived a remarkable life. Born in Yorkshire to a schizophrenic mother and emotionally absent father, by the age of five his parents have divorced and his mother is unable to care for him. John is rejected by his father and stepmother and sent away to a children’s home. Whilst in the home John is introduced to music by a couple looking for a child to adopt; they buy him a concertina as a ninth birthday gift. Despite having had no previous tuition, he immediately takes to the instrument, playing it competently within a fortnight and discovering a particular talent for improvisation. John is given piano lessons, becoming highly proficient and eventually studying to diploma level. However, his life is far from settled and, although he forges sporadic friendships, he’s undoubtedly a loner. He spends a lifetime searching for profound human connection until deciding, at the age of sixty-two, that he’ll express his yearning through the healing power of music. The extraordinary result is Imaginem.
For more details, please see the CD web page
29 Songs (PFCD185) £12.50
Music by David Power
Robert Price baritone William Vann piano
David Power (b 1962) has been on a long musical journey, from rock, to contemporary classical, to his mature style which has variously been described as ‘atmospheric’, ‘attractive’ and ‘original’. His work is widely performed, appears on 6 CDs and one LP, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and national networks in Austria, Hong Kong and the Republic of Ireland. Two of his pieces – 'Eight Miniatures for Piano Nos 2 + 4' - have gone viral, securing 1.8 million and nearly 300,000 streams respectively on Spotify alone. However, songs have always been central to his output, and this collection brings together 29 of his finest.
For more details, please see the CD web page
Follow Prima Facie
Prima Facie on Twitter
Prima Facie on Facebook
Prima Facie Blog
In-depth profiles; videos; audio; the Prima Facie Blog
New Release for March 2023
Ronald Stevenson and Friends
Music by Ronald Stevenson, Percy Grainger, Wilma Paterson, John Purser, David Johnson & Edward McGuire.
This CD celebrates the Scottish, but Blackburn born, composer Ronald Stevenson, best known for his piano music (he was himself a virtuoso pianist), but his enormous work list spans most genres except opera, and this disc includes all his works for recorder, interspersed with some of his songs in widely divergent styles with piano and instrumental accompaniment. The disc is also a celebration of the 80th birthday in April 2023 of recorderist John Turner, who features extensively on this disc.
New Release for February 2023
Piano music by Phillip Cooke
During the first national lockdown in 2020, Phillip Cooke composed a short piano piece, ‘The Turtle Dove’, for pianist Duncan Honeybourne’s ‘Contemporary Piano Soundbites’ series on YouTube. The piece was later recorded by Duncan for CD release. One of the reviews referred to ‘Phillip Cooke with his beautiful transfiguration of the wonderful folksong The Turtle Dove.’ The term 'transfiguration' began the compositional process and aesthetic, and this short piece has now resulted in over eighty minutes of music all searching to transfigure and reimagine pre-existing material.
New Release for December 2022
Trésors du Paradis
Lincoln College Chapel Choir
This Double CD represents an outstanding achievement from a choir that only sings once a week during university term times. In the space of just one academic year, twenty-four hours of rehearsal time in total, the chapel choir of Lincoln College managed to learn and perform two CDs worth of some of the most monumental and challenging works in the church choral repertoire. Featuring Durufle’s Requiem, Yves Castagnet’s Messe Salve Regina, a behemoth of a work, including two organs, and a world’s first recording of a piece by Jonathan Dove, 'Treasures in Heaven'.
New Release for December 2022
Imagine Two Rivers
Music by Barry Seaman
Released to celebrate his birthdate, 10th December, this memorial CD celebrates the beautiful music, heart and soul of gifted composer Barry Seaman, who was tragically lost to Covid-19 on April 5, 2020 aged just 73.
New Release for December 2022
The Nightingale and the Rose
Music by Paul Corfield Godfrey – Complete Demo Recordings
An operatic fable, based on a fairy story by Oscar Wilde, The Nightingale and the Rose is the centrepiece of this disc. To complete the CD, we also present a further setting of Oscar Wilde in the shape of verses extracted from his narrative poem The Sphinx; and a short cantata entitled Hymnus Mysticus based on poems by Aleister Crowley. Featuring soloists from Welsh National Opera, together with an orchestra drawn from live sampled performance.
First streaming / download-only release
Prima Facie have released the first in a series of streaming / digital download-only releases featuring the music of Rick Birley.
This album is of an earlier recording of a song cycle, “Six Hardy Songs”, recorded in the Birley Centre in Eastbourne (named after his father), and 4 Orchestral works that have been “realised” by Sibelius and the East West Orchestral sampling system.
Available from Apple Music – Spotify – Bleep
Classic FM CD of the Week
'Magna Carta: The Complete Works for Guitar of John Brunning' was Classic FM's CD of the Week from 23.05.22.
The album was also selected for the A-List: Classical on Apple Music, and as a Spotify Classical New Release pick.
Kenneth Hamilton: acclaim for Liszt CD
Kenneth Hamilton's 'Liszt Volume 1: Death and Transfiguration' is a Gramophone "Best Classical Album of 2022". Read more on the Gramophone review, and check out the CD webpage.
ASC / Prima Facie at 25 – Concert
A special concert to celebrate 25 years of ASC / Prima Facie Records – and the 60th birthday of founder Stephen Plews – was held on 18th September 2021. The concert was in memory of our co-founder Giles Easterbrook.
Performers at the concert included Victoria String Quartet, pianists Alessandra Pompili and Simon Passmoe, recorderist John Turner, seen in the photo above, jazz duo Gavin Barras and Stephen Plews, and the Pleyel Ensemble. The varied programme featured music by Mozart, Britten and others.
Read more on the Prima Facie blog and this British Music Society review by Andrew Mayes.
Giles Easterbrook album download
Giles Easterbrook, co-founder of Prima Facie Records, who sadly passed away on September 1st, 2021, composed music characterised by a ‘pronounced, sometimes astringent melodic gift’, ‘rhythmic subtlety’ and ‘an original, often unexpected harmonic sense’.
Giles’ 2010 CD 'The Moon Underwater' has been out of print for some time, and as a tribute to him, Prima Facie Records have decided to make the music from the CD available, free, for streaming and high-quality download.
You can access the album at The Moon Underwater
Kenneth Hamilton radio interview
Prima Facie artist Kenneth Hamilton was featured on the US radio show 'Conducting Conversations', discussing his new CD 'More Preludes to Chopin'. The show includes music from the CD and discusses Kenneth's career. Listen here: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-2j363-e66399
The Byzantium Connection
"There is much here to enjoy, whether you like classical, jazz, improvisation, contemporary, or just enjoy hearing really good music. A great CD with much to offer." David Heyes, Bass Magazine.
Contemporary Piano Soundbites
"...this remarkable set of pieces...the recital seems to me perfect in every way. Duncan Honeybourne is a great champion for all these composers." John France, MusicWeb International.
"The standard of the compositions and their interest and accessibility are all high...The recording is natural and warm...The booklet essay gives excellent background information on each of the composers and on their pieces." Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International.
The Piano Music of John Joubert
"(Joubert’s complete piano music) is featured here in glittering performances from Duncan Honeybourne… The performances are fluent and powerful, alive to the full range of Joubert’s mercurial invention." International Piano, July 2019
"These are bold piano works that have earned their place in classical music history." British Music Society Journal, 2019.
"This CD is a landmark with all Joubert's piano music... Honeybourne is totally sympathetic throughout this CD - a well-recorded claim for a neglected chapter in British piano music." (*****5 stars) Musical Opinion, Jan-March 2020.
Kenneth Hamilton Plays Ronald Stevenson Volume 2
"I cannot fault the wonderful performance by Kenneth Hamilton of these works. The recording is always clear and bright. The entire programme is a subtle balance between original music and arrangements which well-reflects Stevenson’s achievement." John France, Music Web International.
"A well-constructed, varied recital…performed with commendable verve." Guy Rickards, International Piano Magazine.
On the Shoreline
"The playing on this CD is outstanding. Every piece is delivered with care, commitment and obvious enthusiasm." MusicWeb Recording of the Month review.
Preludes to Chopin
"Brilliantly captures both the musical and the technical content…well judged and beautifully played." John France, Music Web International
"This recording has a uniquely special sound, which drapes the music in a round, full, Romantic tone-colour." Radio 100.7 Luxembourg.
"The commercial success of this release shows how strongly audiences hunger for fresh interpretations of mainstream repertory, and a fresh interpretation is exactly what you get." James Manheim, AllMusic.