• Kenneth Leighton
  • Prelude, Hymn & Toccata (1987)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • Two pianos
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Kenneth Leighton: Prelude, Hymn and Toccata, Op. 96

The Prelude, Hymn and Toccata (1987) is dedicated to, and was commissioned by the Nettle-Markham Piano Duo with funds made available by Lincolnshire & Humberside Arts. It is the second of two works written for them by Leighton, the first being the Sonata for piano duet, Op. 92.

The 20-minute work begins with Leighton's typical preludial double-dotted rhythms and contrapuntal textures; it develops into dark passionate music and erupts into single and double cadenzas. The gentle Hymn is ushered in quietly amidst the storm and unfolds in long, rhapsodic sections, building up to more climactic cadenzas before dissolving gradually to an ethereal conclusion. The hymn tune in question is very well known but highly disguised. The Toccata finale shows Leighton's masterly piano writing and contrasts biting, rhythmic motifs with sweeping, yearning elegiac phrases. The breathless coda brings this exciting work to its precipitous close.