Leslie De'Ath has taken up the banner for the music of Cyril Scott, which many feel is long overdue for unfurling again, with a series on Dutton of his piano music. It is easy to hear in the pieces on this first volume why Scott was called "The English Debussy." The extremely colorful, translucent harmonies he uses make his music entrancing, sometimes mystical.
Prokofiev was born in Sontsovka (now Krasne in Donetsk oblast), an isolated rural estate in Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. He displayed unusual musical abilities by the age of five. His first piano composition to be written down (by his mother), an 'Indian Gallop', was in the Lydian mode (F major with a B natural instead of B flat) as the young Prokofiev felt 'reluctance to tackle the black notes'. By the age of seven he had also learned to play chess. Much like music, chess would remain a passion his entire life, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca and Mikhail Botvinnik.
John Cage: Early Piano Music comes from Herbert Henck, an experienced hand with the work of Cage, having previously recorded Music for Piano, Music of Changes, and Sonatas and Interludes in addition to a mighty swath of first-tier twentieth-century literature for piano for various labels, most notably Wergo and ECM New Series. These are early works for standard, not prepared, piano, and some of these pieces will be as familiar to dyed-in-the-wool Cageans as "Happy Birthday." This puts the pressure on Henck to excel, and he does so spectacularly well here. The disc includes the two sets entitled Two Pieces for Piano, the piano version of The Seasons, Metamorphosis, In a Landscape, Ophelia, and the fragmentary Quest. The pieces date from 1935 to 1948, the same range covered by pianist Jeanne Kirstein in her pioneering 1967 survey of Cage's piano music for CBS Masterworks.