Recording Reviews

Concentrated practice, glued to the European Cup quarter-final with Martino Tirimo and Radoslav Kvapil (Aveiro Piano Festival, 2004; photo by Nancy Lee Harper)

‘Howat expresses a tender affection and sense of fun in [Chabrier’s] exquisite Pièces pittoresques that is almost new in Chabrier interpretation … A treasure trove, hardly possible to take in at one sitting.’ Adrian Jack, BBC Music Magazine, October 1996.

‘Howat’s playing here, as in his public recitals, is masterful, gently precise in attack and agreement and exceptionally beautiful in its balance of registers and sonorities. This [Debussy] disc promises to inaugurate a richly rewarding series of recordings; the pianist’s slipcover notes will be part of the history of latter-day documentation of the composer.’ Roger Covell, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 1997.

‘Howat’s approach [centres] on the underlying beauty of the music, the musical shape of phrases within sentences and paragraphs, and the textural interplay of light and shadow … In short, imagination and elegance characterize the playing, and everywhere we are allowed to hear what Debussy seems to have wanted us to hear… Howat’s essay in the booklet is as illuminating as his playing, so in every respect his complete Debussy has got off to a most auspicious start.’ Charles Timbrell, International Piano Quarterly, Autumn 1997.

‘The two books of Etudes, far from seeming academic, or beautiful but the product of a failing imagination [as on two other listed recordings], emerge here as the brilliant summation of the composer’s output for the instrument, the distillation of what had gone before. … the degree of understanding in his playing, the wit, the precision of effect and, yes, the sensitivity of touch, make this an exceptionally important recording… It may be late in the day, but Howat’s Debussy puts all the others in perspective: this, I am convinced, is how Debussy intended his pieces to sound.’ Andrew Ford, 24 Hours, August 1997.

For more reviews see the Tall Poppies site (search the catalogue for ‘Debussy’ or ‘Howat’; reviews are listed with each volume).

From older reviews of Roy Howat’s 1980 Nimbus LP:

‘Mr Howat shows himself to be a pianist of acute intelligence and finesse… This is exquisite musicianship.’ James Harding, Records and Recording, 1980.

‘Roy Howat… has made a fascinating record of Debussy piano music… Howat’s cleancut style and natural magnetism give it a freshness and fantasy… In voltage of communication he lacks nothing in comparison with more celebrated rivals.’ Edward Greenfield, The Guardian, 1980