Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rebeca Omordia and Mark Bebbington have enjoyed extraordinary critical and sales success with "The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams" on Somm

SOMM CD 0164

Rebeca Omordia and Mark Bebbington

The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams

The liner notes of this recording present a brief biography of pianist Rebeca Omordia, "Born in Romania to a Romanian mother and a Nigerian father, Rebeca Omordia graduated from the National Music University in Bucharest in 2006 when she was awarded a full scholarship to study at Birmingham Conservatoire and later at Trinity College of Music in London.

"Winning the Delius Prize in 2009 opened a collaboration with the world-renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.  They formed a three-year partnership performing in well-known venues including Wigmore Hall and Kings Place in London, Highgrove for the Prince's Trust and giving several live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.


"Rebeca is a great advocate of Nigerian classical music.  In 2013 she formed a partnership with his Excellency Nigeria High Commissioner in London to promote Nigerian classical music to the UK audience."

The Classical composers of Continental Europe generally came to our attention before those of the United Kingdom.  The U.K. website MusicWeb International,  the U.K.-based blog On An Overgrown Path and research into the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who is featured at, all contributed to a gradually increasing awareness of the wealth of U.K. Classical composition in the 19th and 20th centuries.                                                                                     

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is one of a number of British composers we think of as being influenced by folk music.  Everyman's Dictionary of Music by Eric Blom (1973) says of the composer: "In 1904 he joined the Folk-Song Society and began to take an active share in the recovery and study of old country tunes, collecting some in Norfolk."

The principal liner notes of the recording are written and copyrighted by Robert Matthew-Walker.  They begin: "Although Vaughan Williams composed prolifically for over sixty years, producing around 200 works, he wrote comparatively little for the piano.  Because of his major achievements in symphony, opera, folk-song and choral music, many commentators have tended to dismiss his piano music as insignificant, but his compositions for the instrument contain two absolute masterpieces for solo piano, The Lake in the Mountains and the Choral and Choral Prelude, with the Hymn Tune Prelude on Song XIII and the Suite of Six Short Pieces being only just below this exceptional standard.  Vaughan Williams's music for duo pianists is even smaller in output, but contains one demonstrably great work - the Introduction and Fugue for two pianos."

Mark Bebbington plays the solo piano works which occupy a major portion of this recording.  Rebeca Omordia joins in on Introduction and Fugue for two pianos (17:22), which receives its premiere recording on this disc.  The next work in which she participates is Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (12:29).  The piece is arranged for two pianos by Maurice Jacobson and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Finally, Rebeca takes part in the piano duet for Fantasia on Greensleeves, which is adapted from the opera Sir John in Love. 

In the first week of April, 2017, James Inverne Music reported on the sales and critical success of The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams:

Bebbington's "The Piano Music of Vaughan Williams", with Rebeca Omordia and Somm Recordings, has spent seven weeks in the charts, reached number three, and notched up a second “Recording of the Month” in a row for the English pianist.

Since Vaughan Williams fans tend to be passionate about the English composer's music to the point of devotion, there will have been many glasses raised to the extraordinary sales success of Mark Bebbington's newest album, "The Piano Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams". Released by Somm Recordings and also featuring fellow pianist Rebeca Omordia, the album has so far featured in the UK Specialist Classical Charts for an astonishing seven weeks, reaching as high as number three.

For a release that might be regarded as niche - Vaughan Williams is not best-known for his piano music, which has tended to be overlooked - this is a remarkable success. Reviewers have also welcomed the release. Writes Andrew Achenbach in Gramophone, "(Amazingly the first CD recording of Introduction and Fugue)...and a superb one it is too, Mark Bebbington and Rebeca Omordia finding an unremitting logic, sweep and concentration that thrill to the for the solo items, Bebbington gives ideally lofty and serene renderings...Bebbington's disarmingly deft touch likewise works wonders in the two sets of teaching pieces that close proceedings..."

Similarly Music Web International, which named the album its "Recording Of The Month", noted that Bebbington's and Omordia's "deft and dedicated reading shows (Introduction and Fugue) off in all its glory." The Guardian called it "enjoyable, Classical Ear "essential", The Arts Desk "A winner!". The album has also had success in the wide-ranging Classic FM Chart. [End]

We agree with the critics and classical music purchasers who have launched the recording of Rebeca Omordia and Mark Bebbington on an extraordinary trajectory,
and add our own endorsement based on our experience of intense listening enjoyment. 

By Simon Brackenborough (@sbrackenborough) 

Comment by email:
Thank you very much for all your support, Bill! Very best wishes, Rebeca [Rebeca Omordia]

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