The first of these Études was written in memory of Mark Ray, former Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), who died in tragic circumstances in 2006. It makes use of syncopated rhythms and percussive articulation, with a passing reference to Ravel’s G major concerto, the work he performed in concert when he was a student at the RNCM. The Étude was premiered by Peter Lawson in 2006.
Études 2 and 3 were added to complete the set in 2020. Étude 2 is dedicated to Murray McLachlan, and is a study in textural control, with ‘a quiet wistfulness, floating with reflection calmly over gentle quaver figurations’. Étude 3 is dedicated to Jonathan Scott, and has more than a hint of the motoric rhythms and folk melodies of Bartok. It is ‘an extremely energised essay that encourages virtuosic bravura and élan’ (McLachlan).
Three Études have been recorded by Murray McLachlan on the album Edward Gregson – Complete Music for Solo Piano (Naxos 8.574222).
The Three Études of 2020 are fresh additions to Gregson’s oeuvre, the first a joyous bravura piece with an emphasis on jagged rhythms, the second a more reflective exploration of piano sonority and harmonic evolution, the third a more cinematic composition, again highly rhythmic with hints of jazz harmony and latin grooves.
Pianodao, October 2020
The following two Études were composed specially for the present recording, the first, an ethereal wistful examination of textural balance, is dedicated to McLachlan, who treats it with such loving affection throughout – three minutes of absolutely blissful calm.
Philip R Buttall, MusicWeb International, October 2020
The first of the three originated as an independent piece written in tribute to a former colleague of Gregson’s who died in 2006. Murray McLachlan describes this a “a motoric, linear bravura piece”. The music contains a passing reference to Ravel’s G major Piano Concerto (at 0:46). The writing demands – and here receives – extremely precise articulation. The second Étude is dedicated to McLachlan, who draws attention to the music’s “quiet wistfulness”. The piece gives the impression of cold, pure water. The third Étude evidences Gregson’s admiration for Bartók. It’s a driving, toccata-like creation which is full of exciting energy.
John Quinn, MusicWeb International, March 2021
Repeated notes take on an especial significance in Gregson’s piano music, as if resonating with his brass and orchestral writing. His pieces often tap into a filmic vein too, flashin in an instant between syncopated detonations and sumptuous heart-rending tunes.
Mark Tanner, Piano Professional, April 2021