David Johnson Piano Music Unfamiliar and Appealing

David Johnson was an important figure in Scottish music. He did ground-breaking research into 18th Century Scottish folk music. His work established links between folk and classical music of the period. 

Johnson was responsible for reviving several early Scottish composers of the era. And as an instrumentalist and concert promoter, he brought this music to the public. 

Johnson was also a prolific composer, although his music isn’t well-known. This album collects the twelve preludes and fugues Johnson wrote in the 1990s. He was a research fellow at the time. The initial pieces were written as one-offs. 

But as time went on, Johnson came to think of them as a series. He composed the later installments with that concept in mind. The pieces all share a common four-note motif. — B-flat, B natural, E and A. In Germanic spelling, B natural is “H.” It allowed Bach to spell out his name musically. And it allowed Johnson to reference Bheatha — the Gaelic word for life. 

This is a fascinating collection of pieces. Some are quite simple. Others sound challenging to play. Johnson writes in a primarily tonal style. But that doesn’t limit him to simple harmonies. 

Christopher Guild has a strong background playing Scottish classical music. And that experience informs his playing here. Johnson often referenced Scottish music in these pieces. Guild ensures they’re played with the proper phrasing and rhythmic bounce.

Charming, witty, and thought-provoking. 

David Johnson: 12 Preludes and Fugues for solo piano
Christopher Guild, piano
Divine Art

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