The Piano Sonatas of Alec Rowley

Alec Rowley (1892-1958) was a notable English pianist, composer and teacher. He was for many years professor of piano at Trinity College of Music. His compositions include many suites and shorter pieces for piano, intended for amateur performers, much useful and attractive organ music and a few larger-scale works. Alongside these, there are some advanced works for piano, presumably intended for his own performance.

The two Sonatas were published in 1939 and 1949 respectively, and have more than a hint of French style to them, with a distinctly Ravelian spirit particularly evident in the second. Indeed, the slow movement of that work perhaps even has a hint of Ravel’s Bolero. Like all Rowley’s music they are admirably concise, packed with ideas that satisfy without outstaying their welcome. The outer movements contrast brisk ideas with more languid episodes, including much in the way of chromatic harmony and even some steps into pentatonicism. Neither work has been commercially recorded.