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Byline: Peter Spaull

STEPHEN Wearing was one of the outstanding Merseyside keyboard musicians during the early part of the last century, who included the great teachers Douglas Miller and Gordon Green.

Wearing, who was born in 1900, was invited to play a concerto at the 1917 Henry Wood Promenade Concerts in London by the maestro himself and went on to enjoy a distinguished career between the wars.

In 1946 he invited the Lancashire-born composer Thomas Pitfield to write a Piano Concerto for him andthis was heard at the Liverpool Phil on November 12, 1949 with Hugo Rignold conducting.

We read that the critic of the Liverpool Daily Post praised it warmly. It went on to be played around the country, including a performance under Sir Adrian Boult as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951 and received three broadcasts.

Then the BBC music panel decided it was too "Moody and Sankey" and sentimental and it was banned from the airwaves But it was not forgotten and when Pitfield retired in 1973 from the Royal Northern College of Music it was heard again from another Liverpool pianist Anthony Goldstone.

Now Goldstone has recorded it with the College Symphony Orchestra.

Pitfield was a remarkable man. Born in Bolton in 1903 he was active until his death in 1999. He was a true polymath, writing poetry and witty limericks, cabinet making, painting, drawing and woodcarving and teaching. His pupils included John Mc Cabe and John Ogden His music was well known in Liverpool as he wrote a number of ballet scores in the 1930s for the Liverpool Ballet Group, which was financed by a rich American woman, Melita Kentish Barnes, who lived in Heswall.

Amateur they may have been, but they had a keen eye for the up and coming talent and Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann were among the artists who appeared at the Sandon Rooms.

A sinfonietta was played by Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra and there were many small scale works suitable for children and some chamber music, occasionally for odd instruments such as the accordion. The new CD of the Piano Concerto is part of the praiseworthy British Piano Concertos project of Peter Donohoe.

He plays the Second Concerto which was written for students in the USA and has as a result been undervalued.

Also here is some solo piano music including Studies on an English Dance Tune, and the Xylophone Sonata which was played at a Pitfield memorial concert in Manchester a year or two ago, and dates from 1987.

Phil concertgoers with long memories of the membership of the percussion section of the RLPO will not be surprised to learn that the xylophonist on this Naxos disc is Peter Donohoe.

Incidentally, Donohoe contributes more British music this month with the release of the three Piano Sonatas of Michael Tippett, rather less easy music to listen to than Tom Pitfield's, but worthwhile as it is again at budget price
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2005
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