New Dickinson disc
9th June 2011
The National Anthem and ‘Rule Britannia’ are turned into the Patriotic Rag; Edward MacDowell’s salon classic ‘To a Wild Rose’ becomes both a blues and a rag; the first Prelude in Bach’s 48 becomes the source of a blues; and Satie’s Gnossiennes are wickedly reworked in jazz terms. Some of these crazy take-offs come from larger works. The MacDowell ones are the basis of Dickinson’s Blue Rose Variations for organ, heard at the Proms two years ago; the Patriotic Rag comes from London Rags for brass quintet, which formed the second half of the South Bank Show programme devoted to Dickinson; the Satie arrangements were for Dickinson’s orchestral Satie Transformations, a Feeney Trust commission; and the Concerto Rag comes from Dickinson’s Piano Concerto, recorded by Howard Shelley and the BBC SO under David Atherton.
Christopher Palmer said about Dickinson’s larger works: ‘Conflicts, juxtapositions, attempted syntheses – his work is full of them, all shook-up, all mixed-up, all jazzed-up…yet always keenly imagined and meticulously reasoned and realised.’
Arnold Whittall, in Gramophone magazine, described Dickinson as ‘a composer who has escaped the confines of the predictable without ever ceasing to communicate’.