There are twenty commercially-released CDs/EPs in the catalogue featuring the music of Richard Pantcheff, of which nine contain his works exclusively. Several further discs are in currently in preparation, a number of which feature his works exclusively.
Plans for forthcoming CD releases include :
- ‘To Autumn’ (Opus 103) will be released on CD by Rupert Marshall-Luck (Violin) and Em Marshall-Luck (Narrator) on the EM Records label.
- Prima Facie Records have embarked upon a series of CDs containing the Chamber Music of Richard Pantcheff.
- Orchid Classics have embarked upon a series of CDs and EPs featuring the Choral and Orchestral music of Richard Pantcheff.
COMMERCIAL CD and EP RECORDINGS
20. Concerto for Organ, and other works for organ solo, string orchestra, and choir appear on the CD The Music of Richard Pantcheff, Volume 3 released by Orchid Classics (ORC100206). The soloist is James Orford, and the choir and orchestra of the London Choral Sinfonia are directed by Michael Waldron.
Volume 3 of this series is, in purely musical terms, the most substantial yet, and may occasion some surprise among those who think of Pantcheff primarily in terms of his justly successful career as a composer of uplifting choral church music.
The Organ Concerto is a powerful work. Its rhythmic variety and insistence suggest that Pantcheff is a rather more “progressive” composer than his choral works might lead one to believe.
Pantcheff’s use of tonality was always original, but in the choral works here, the more recent (ones) display a greater freedom in the use of unresolved dissonance.
The two recent (2021) Chorale Preludes are pared down to the most economical, austere, textures, yet retaining harmonic warmth; both are elevated and solemnly hermitical in expression.
Records International, December 2022. Reference 12Y027.
19. “…thus in silence, in dreams’ projections…” for solo piano appears on the CD In Dreams’ Projections, released on the Prima Facie label (PFCD 189). The work is dedicated to, and performed by, Duncan Honeybourne.
18. Fantasia on Yorkshire Folk Tunes (for solo violin and solo violoncello), Introduction and Allegro No.1 (for solo violin and solo violoncello), and Introduction and Allegro No.2 (for two solo violins) appear on the CD Exploring Spirit, on the EM Records label (EMR CD 076) released in May 2022. The solo violinist is Rupert Marshall-Luck, and the cellist is Joseph Spooner.
17. “…the space immense of the azure sky…” appears within ‘A Garland for Ukraine’, a collection of specially-commissioned new works for Recorder and Piano. This was performed and recorded in April 2022 by John Turner (Recorder) and Susan Bettaney (Piano) and is available on the website http://www.recorderist.co.uk.
16. Passacaglia on a Theme of Benjamin Britten, Trio Sonata No.1, and other works for organ appear on a double-CD set released in February 2022 on the Prima Facie label (Passacaglia on a Theme of Benjamin Britten and other organ works) (PFCD174/175). Simon Passmore plays the organ at St. Ann’s Church, Manchester.
Simon Passmore proves an eloquent advocate for Richard Pantcheff’s organ music in a two-disc survey largely focusing on material from the past decade. The intense, chromatic, Passacaglia on a Theme of Benjamin Britten and 12-part A Sequence for St. George, here in an adroitly meditative account, prove apt companions on one disc. The other features Trio Sonata No. 1, a complex, contrapuntally-accented exercise in allowing hands and pedals independence from each other. The six improvisatory miniatures of Voces Organi are stamped with Pantcheff’s signature details and economy (‘Easter’ the refulgent exception to the rule); the attractive, prelude-like Two Short Pieces from 1996 are heard for the first time in recently reworked versions.
4/4 star review in Choir and Organ magazine (August 2022).
15. Numerous works for choir and orchestra, solo singers and orchestra, and flugelhorn and orchestra appear on the CD The Music of Richard Pantcheff, Volume 2 (see also 12. below). The disc was released on 22nd October 2021 on the Orchid Classics label (ORC 100175). The London Choral Sinfonia are conducted by Michael Waldron, with Nick Pritchard (tenor solo), and Peter Mankarious (flugelhorn and trumpet). One track, A Prayer of St Columba was included in three of Apple Music’s global playlists. The CD entered The Gramophone Classical Charts at Number 5 upon its release in October 2021, and was given a 5-star rating by Choir and Organ magazine.
Choir and Organ (March 2022) :
Richard Pantcheff’s immediately engaging music…
Evocative responses to these familiar texts…
There are many pleasures to be explored among the dozen works recorded
14. Sonata for Pianoforte and Nocturnus V : ‘Wind oor die Branders’ have been released in April 2021 on the EM Records label (EMR CD070-71) on a double-CD set entitled De profundis clamavi. Duncan Honeybourne (dedicatee of the Sonata) is the pianist.
British Music Society (October 2021) : The 2017 Sonata (for Piano) by Richard Pantcheff (b. 1959) is a work which will both demand and repay much attention.
This Sonata (for Piano) seems to be more about questions than answers: a questing opening movement like a tongue probing a nagging tooth is followed by a remote and cool exploration of some profound depths, while the finale wrestles strenuously with a near Scriabin-esque devil: if the idiom is not of the very latest, the achievement is undeniable.
MusicWeb International (September 2021) : Nocturnus V ‘Wind oor die Branders’ (‘Wind on the Waves’) was completed in 2015. It describes well “impending blustery weather on the sea” before the storm arrives and then subsides. I hope the composer will not be offended if I suggest the hand of Claude Debussy lies behind this watery music. It is quite beautiful in its impact.
The inspiration behind Richard Pantcheff’s Piano Sonata (2017) seems to be “disquieting political and social events in the UK” during 2017. The composer has written that its aim was to express “the greatest possible tumult, and on occasion, desolation.”
I certainly found Richard Pantcheff’s Sonata desolate and full of tumult. There is no optimism here. The musical language seems to me to be a concatenation of styles including Bridge, sometimes Debussy, and maybe even Messiaen. For me, the highlight is the slow movement. I do not enjoy this sonata, but I respect and appreciate it.
13. African-Caribbean Elegy (a set of three part-songs for unaccompanied choir, using words by famous Caribbean poets) appears on an EP of the same name released on 12th February 2021 by Orchid Classics. It is performed by the London Choral Sinfonia conducted by Michael Waldron. It is available for download only, from Apple Music, Spotify, or from the Orchid Classics website.
12. Numerous works for unaccompanied choir, choir and organ, and choir and piano appear on the CD The Music of Richard Pantcheff : Volume 1, released on 18th September 2020 by Orchid Classics – ORC100144. The London Choral Sinfonia are conducted by Michael Waldron, with Jeremy Cole (organ) and Matthew Fletcher (piano). Upon its release it entered the Gramophone Classical Charts directly at number 12.
American Record Guide (December 2020) : “I was unfamiliar with the English composer Richard Pantcheff until this recording. He has had a wide-ranging career as a composer, organist, and choral conductor, writing numerous choral, vocal, organ, chamber, and instrumental works. This program contains mainly sacred choral pieces aside from the Stephen Crane settings and the Apologia of Henry VIII, where he (King Henry VII) seeks to absolve himself from blame for the sins of his youth. The two substantial settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (one for women’s and one for men’s voices) are particularly effective and worth investigation by church musicians. The style is interesting and approachable, and the performances are excellent. Notes and texts. A welcome discovery.”
James Manheim (www.allmusic.com) : “The music of Richard Pantcheff has been somewhat neglected, perhaps because he was working in South Africa when English cathedral music really hit its new golden age in the 2010s. Too, his music is more demanding than that of Rutter and his ilk, with close attention to the text and flexible treatment of tonality according to the demands of an individual work. Pantcheff studied with Benjamin Britten as a young man, and there are strong echoes of Britten in the choral music here; try Britten’s Flower Songs, Op. 47, for an idea of the mixture of the weighty and the lyrical in Pantcheff’s music. Michael Tippett might be another influence. The Pantcheff works here are a cappella or accompanied by piano or organ. They are both sacred and secular, without a strong stylistic differentiation between them, and this is key to the uniqueness of Pantcheff’s style: it has a slightly mystical tinge. Listen to the Four Poems of Stephen Crane, Op. 86, secular works much newer than the rest of the works on the album, but stylistically of a piece with them, for an idea of the seriousness of purpose in Pantcheff’s music. The clean and committed performances of the London Choral Sinfonia under Michael Waldron add much to the satisfying effect, as does the flattering sound from St. Mark’s Church, Regents Park, London. The music here was recorded in 2015; kudos to Orchid Classics for finally making it available.”
George Hall Music : 21st September 2020 : “Listening with pleasure to a CD of choral music by Richard Pantcheff on Orchid Classics, and admiring his sensitive ear for texture in works for the Anglican Choral tradition. Finely delivered performance from the London Choral Sinfonia under Michael Waldron.”
11. A Christmas Carol (Opus 88, No.2 for SATB Choir and Organ) appears on the CD O Holy Night, performed by the London Choral Sinfonia, conducted by Michael Waldron, on the Orchid Classics – ORC100110. Released on 15th November 2019.
5.4.com. December 2019 : “Richard Pantcheff‘s A Christmas Carol turns two stanzas of Swinburne’s text into a kind of hypnotised reverie. A persistent organ motif serves as a regular pulse beneath the more free, at times, ecstatic articulation of the words, the latter of which giving the impression the singers are caught up in the quietest of raptures. While not in the usual sense of the word a radical piece, it’s certainly one of the more unusual and most beautiful Christmas choral works that I’ve heard in a long time, yielding more and more on subsequent listenings.”
http://www.amazon.co.uk. January 2020. “Best of all (on the disc) is probably Richard Pantcheff’s Christmas Carol, a haunting and beautiful setting of words by Swinburne.”
MusicWeb International, December 2019 : “This is perhaps best exemplified in Richard Pantcheff’s haunting and deeply atmospheric A Christmas Carol, in which slow, sustained vocal lines waft elusively over an other-worldly organ accompaniment. No boisterous bells, no chirpy chanting, no delightfully ditties, but an intense reflection on the true miracle of the Christmas story, as related in Swinburne’s text.”
10. Numerous choral and organ works appear on the CD Richard Pantcheff – Choral and Organ Works. Performed by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, conducted by Stephen Darlington, with Clive Driskill-Smith, organ. Includes the work King Henry VIII’s Apologia, which was specially commissioned by Christ Church, Oxford, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of its foundation. Quilisma – QUIL405. September 2002.
9. Suite – King Richard III (Opus 94, for solo violin) appears on the CD Richard III, performed by the work’s dedicatee, Rupert Marshall Luck. Released in November 2017 on the EM Records – EMR CD 45-46.
8. A Prayer for Saint Sebastian and Fanfare for St. Boniface (Two Short Pieces for Organ, Opus 34A) appear on the CD Arundel Experience, played by Alexander Eadon on the organ of Arundel Cathedral, England. Released on 23rd October 2016 on the Willowhayne Records – WHR043.
7. Sonata for Violin and Organ (Opus 74) appears on the CD King of Instruments, Instrument of Kings. Recorded in the Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, performed by Rupert Marshall-Luck (Violin) and Duncan Honeybourne (Organ) on the EM Records – EMR CD 29.
MusicWeb International. June 2015: “The music of Richard Pantcheff was new to me, but on this showing he is worth monitoring…A completative muse lords it unchallenged over this surprising Sonata with the occasional pastel hint of Finzi, Messiaen, or Part. The final Tarantella recalls Shostakovitch among those sometimes unassuming voices.”
The Strad. September 2015 : “…it is an affecting work, much given to gentle musing, the violin’s long, flowing lines expressively played by Marshall-Luck.”
The Gramophone. November 2015 : “A Howellsian plangency dominates the first two movements of Pantcheff’s Sonata (with organ accompaniment) with particular emphasis on the plaintive violin, though this accentuated introspection is dispelled in the Tarantella finale”.
Choir and Organ. August 2015 : “…here the point of interest is Richard Pantcheff’s Op. 74 Sonata for Violin and Organ…it offers a remarkably assured blending of the keening middle voice and skittish and silky high strings of the violin to the more grounded timbres of the organ. The characterful, often nimble, dialogues that ensue (the lively Tarantella finale a case in point) prove exquisitely rewarding”.
Birmingham Post. July 2015 : “The instrument referred to in the title is the organ, although here used not as a solo instrument but in a sonata with violin. That seems a mismatch at first sight, but works surprisingly well in Richard Pantcheff’s Sonata Op. 74. Although not afraid to unleash the organ’s sonorous power occasionally, it’s predominantly a lyrical work with Duncan Honeybourne (playing the Huddlestone organ, in the Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge) and Rupert Marshall-Luck relishing the song-like opening movement, central Romanza, and lively final Tarantella.”
British Music Society Journal. 6th June 2015 : “…full of lyricism, passion, and energy…”
6. Numerous works for Organ appear on the CD Richard Pantcheff : Suite for Organ and Other Organ Works. Performed by Iain Farrington on the Marcussen organ in the Chapel of Tonbridge School, Kent. Herald – HAVPCD 365. January 2011.
The Organ Club Journal, 2012-1 : “Richard Pantcheff is a name known to me for choral works, but until I saw this disc was not aware that he composed for solo organ… Pantcheff’s music is new to me, and totally pleasing to the ear, unlike some other modern composers’ works. I like it!”.
Choir and Organ, March/April 2012 : “The tonal language of Pantcheff’s music is accessible and possesses a modality which lends itself well to the organ…(the pieces are) traditional in style in the sense of mid-20th-century English church music. Many tend towards improvisations in form. Most successful are those specifically liturgical pieces (interludes, processionals, hymn preludes), where Pantcheff’s expression is at its best”.
5. Numerous works for Organ appear on the CD Richard Pantcheff: Sonata for Organ and Other Organ Works. Performed by Clive Driskill-Smith on the organ of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Herald – HAVPCD 339. January 2008.
Choir and Organ, July/August 2008 : “Richard Pantcheff’s sinewy Sonata puts the Rieger organ of Christ Church Cathedral through its paces to vivid effect. Clive Driskill-Smith makes much of the work’s knotty intensity, the muscular interplay of contrasted themes, and the solo-scored passages with demanding pedal that climax in a C Major sunburst of tremolando chords. The nine Hymn Preludes and twelve Short Interludes find Pantcheff elegantly pouring quarts into pint pots, with the nine individual feast-day pieces offering further evidence of an articulate compositional voice”.
Organists’ Review, May 2008 : “…one of the latest works from a renowned composer with an established reputation in the field of organ and choral music.”
4. Choral work Come, my beloved, appears on the disc The Voice of my Beloved – Settings of the Song of Songs from the Renaissance to the Present Day. The Choir of Lincoln College, Oxford, conducted by Paul Wingfield and Rebecca Taylor. Work specially commissioned by the Choir of Lincoln College, Oxford. Herald – HAVPCD 324. February 2007.
3. Choral Ensemble work Five Elizabethan Lyrics appears on the CD A Garland of the Elizabethan. Performed by The Clerks of Christ Church, Oxford, for whom the work was specially commissioned. SOMM – CD 047. October 2005.
Reviewer’s Log – Robert Hugill, February 2006 : “The Clerks of Christ Church still retain their links with their Alma Mater, and for their most recent disc they have even gone as far as to perform a world premiere, a group of songs by Robert (sic) Pantcheff. And very good they are too.”
http://www.mdt.com, April 2006 : “…and most notably, a delicious group of Elizabethan Lyrics, expertly set to Elizabethan verse by Richard Pantcheff.”
MusicWeb International, April 2006 : “It is with the Five Elizabethan Lyrics by Richard Pantcheff that the programme takes a leap upwards. Pantcheff’s style is basically tonal, but has a wonderful turn of melodic phrase, by using expressionist dissonance. The overall feeling is sharp and quite spiky, modulated by a good feel for texture; but Pantcheff’s chromaticism is always in the service of the words. Pantcheff varies the texture of the pieces well, ranging from the quietly expressive opening of Beauty is but a painted hell, to the lively dance rhythms of Hey Nonny no. With such a distinguished group of lyrics and their strong links to Elizabethan/Jacobean music, it would have been easy for Pantcheff to have been overawed and to have produced music which was a pale copy of the Elizabethan. It is a testament to Pantcheff’s talent that he has taken his own path, providing a response to the poems which is always musical, but sometimes unexpected. This is a recital which deserves to be heard for Pantcheff’s settings of Elizabethan lyrics…”.
2. Choral work For Lo, The Days Come appears on the disc Salvator Mundi – Music for Lent and Passiontide. Performed by the Arcadian Singers of Oxford University, conducted by Matthew O’Donovan. Lammas – LAMM 152D. April 2003.
James Martin, on http://www.crotchet.co.uk : “Was very surprised : excellent disc from relative newcomers – the Pantcheff and the Gounod are particularly good.”
Church Music Quarterly : “A splendid, gripping, unaccompanied setting, by Richard Pantcheff, of verses from Jeremiah.”
Cathedral Music 2/2003 : “…and including a fine new piece by Richard Pantcheff, commissioned for this recording.”
CD Review 2003 : “A well-blended and stylish choir sing an interesting range of sometimes little-heard music, including a premiere of Richard Pantcheff’s Behold, the Days Cometh (sic) *****.”
Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, June 2003 : “For lo, the days come…was commissioned for this recording; it is a compelling unaccompanied setting of verses from the Book of Jeremiah”.
American Record Guide, 2003 : “Pantcheff’s For lo, the days come, sounds like a blend of Howells and Leighton, with a dash of Finzi, as lush and tender harmonies alternate with extended passages of spare, two-part, writing, often concentrating on the intervals of the second, fourth, and fifth…”
1. Choral work Phos Hilaron appears on the CD O Sapientia – Twentieth and Twenty First Century Choral Music. Performed by the City of Oxford Choir, conducted by Peter Leech. Parish Records – PARECCD004. April 2002.