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Welsh Impressions
- piano music from Wales TCR025

Zoë Smith, piano

Yn Welsh Impressions mae’r pianydd Zoë Smith yn datgelu gemau anghyfarwydd y repertoire Cymreig i’r piano gan amrywiaeth o leisiau cyfansoddol. Mae’r casgliad yn cynnwys cerddoriaeth 13 o gyfansoddwyr Cymreig, y rhan fwyaf ohonynt yn cael eu recordio yma am y tro cyntaf: o hyfedredd Fictoraidd Henry Brinley Richards a llais trawiadol y Morfydd Owen ifanc, drwy ramant Meirion Williams, i fydoedd sain unigryw Grace Williams a Mervyn Burtch.  

In Welsh Impressions pianist Zoë Smith reveals little-known gems of Welsh piano repertoire from a range of compositional voices. The collection features the music of 13 Welsh composers, most of which is recorded here for the first time: from the Victorian virtuosity of Henry Brinley Richards and the striking voice of a young Morfydd Owen, through the romance of Meirion Williams, to the singular soundworlds of Grace Williams and Mervyn Burtch.  

Find more information on the composers by clicking their names below. The titles link to the sheet music.

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Four Welsh ImpressionsMorfydd Owen      [notes]

    1. Llanbrynmair

    2. Glantaf

    3. Nant-y-ffrith

    4. Beti Bwt

The SeasonsCyril Jenkins     [notes]

    5. Spring

    6. Summer

    7. Autumn

    8. Winter

9. Welsh Folk DancesET Davies     [notes]

10. The Silent PoolGrace Williams     [notes]

11. Allegro vivace - David Vaughan Thomas     [notes]

12. Prelude, ‘St Tudno’ T Osborne Roberts     [notes]

13. Suo Gân – arr. George Mantle Childe     [notes]

14. Nocturne in A flatMeirion Williams     [notes]

15. Lullaby - Dilys Elwyn-Edwards     [notes]

Three European Dances – Eiluned Davies     [notes]

    16. La Casse-noisette (France)

    17. Paiduska Makedonska (Macedonia)

    18. Tropanka (Bulgaria)

Six Song PreludesMansel Thomas     [notes]

    19. Broad Sound

    20. Channel Saint

    21. The Inner Light

    22. A Song of Sleep

    23. The Mask of Pity

    24. Èze-Sur-Mer

Sonatina No. 5Mervyn Burtch     [notes]

    25. Allegro con brio

    26. Lento

    27. Allegro con brio

28. Juanita – arr. Henry Brinley Richards     [notes]

Ochr yn ochr i’r albwm yma, rydym wrth ein boddau i gynhyrchu llyfrynnau newydd o’r sgoriau sy'n ffurfio rhan o'r repertoire sy ar y record. 

Alongside this release, we’re delighted to have produced companion sheet music editions of some of the repertoire featured on the record.

Welsh Impressions sheet music.png

Tracks 5-8 © Stainer & Bell Ltd

Track 9 © Oxford University Press

Track 10 © Oriana Publications

Track 13 © Oxford University Press

Track 14 © Estate of Meirion Williams

Track 15 © Estate of Dilys Elwyn-Edwards

Tracks 19-24 © Mansel Thomas Trust

Tracks 25-27 © Mervyn Burtch Trust

Track notes written by Zoë Smith:

Four Welsh Impressions: Morfydd Llwyn Owen

The piano music of Morfydd Owen is heartfelt, at times brooding but always expressive, inspired by her love of places and people. These four miniatures are no exception. Composed during 1914 and 1915, while still a composition student at the Royal Academy of Music, they share with us Morfydd’s attachment to her closest friends and particular locations.

The first of the Impressions has three possible titles: Prelude in F sharp minor, Llanbrynmair (her father’s birth place and frequent holiday destination) or Waiting for Eirlys (her close friend and fellow composition student who was always late). Whether the piece portrays the majesty of the mid-Wales landscape or Morfydd’s resignation at Eirlys’s tardiness, it is fully of yearning – expressed beautifully in the opening solo line, which returns at the end to close the piece - and solemnity, using a repeated slow sarabande figure to build to a passionate climax, exploiting the extremes of dynamics on the piano.

Glantaf follows, reflecting the views of the River Taff from Morfydd’s home in Treforest. It is quite melancholy in nature and has resonances of the composer’s growing interest in Russian folk-music through its simple chordal presentation. Poignant pauses contribute to an evocative soundscape.

Morfydd again acknowledges friends with Nant-y-Ffrith, a beauty-spot with rivers, waterfalls and woods near Wrexham, close to the home of Mina Williams. The flowing, peaceful opening is followed by a fanfare like fortissimo passage, immediately contrasted by a pianissimo version. Morfydd plays with these substantial dynamic contrasts throughout, creating a sense of an impassioned conversation that changes direction swiftly, until the music finally ebbs away.

The fourth Impression is Beti Bwt (as a Minuet and Trio), referring to the nickname of a close friend, the music bursting forth from the lowest register of the keyboard. This piece is full of Chopin-like textures, requiring the pianist to play “Daintily” in the dance, respecting the phrasing, articulation and tempo changes indicated in the score. Morfydd moves from the minor Minuet to the major Trio, using syncopation to create quiet excitement, before the return to Minuet, which resolves into the major key for its final lines.

This is a tender set of pieces, demonstrating sophisticated knowledge of piano writing, but using simplicity to enhance their eloquent and impassioned portraits.

The Seasons: Cyril Jenkins

Described by Trevor Herbert as “efficient and extremely prolific”, Cyril Jenkins composed his Op 186 The Seasons during his