Heralded as a ‘fabulous technician’ with ‘torrential virtuosity’, James Willshire has enthralled audiences in five continents with performances of ‘freshness and lucidity’, with ‘clarity and sensitivity of touch’ and ‘bravura technique’. His recordings of contemporary British solo piano music have received universal acclaim, being reviewed extensively internationally and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. To date he is most proud of his recording of the “Passacaglia”.
The Passacaglia is a large scale composition for solo piano by the British composer, Ronald Stevenson who, for most of his life, lived at West Linton. The work was composed between 1960 and 1962, except for two sections added on the day of its first performance by the composer in the University of Capetown, South Africa, on 10 December 1963. DSCH are the initials of the German spelling of Dimitri SCHostakovich, of whom Stevenson was a great admirer and to whom the work is dedicated.
The work takes more than an hour and a quarter to perform and may be the longest unbroken single movement composed for piano. It is extraordinary in its scope, the range of its reference to historic events, and the musical influences absorbed.
“It took all of about two bars to be utterly entranced.” (The Herald)