40TH ANNIVERSARY PROGRAMME There are echoes in this anniversary programme of the memorable 4-day Grainger Festival at King’s Place 2011, for which Penelope was Artistic Director. She is delighted to be joined again by the hugely admired Fitzwilliam String Quartet. She marks both her latest CD with the opening Bach/Liszt Fantasia and Fugue, and also the theme of folk music in the fascinating Grieg Slatter and Grainger settings that follow, culminating in Dvorak’s magnificent Op 81 Piano Quintet.
An exciting world premiere will end the first half of the programme: a youthful piano concerto movement by 13 year old Percy Grainger when he was studying in Frankfurt (1896), orchestrated by Ben Woodgates and played with the Fitzwilliam SQ and 11-piece ensemble.
NEWS A life-long love of the music of Bach has led to a new recording of original works and transcriptions. A BACH RECITAL is released on LIR Classics and has received most enthusiastic reviews.
"Thwaites responds with expressive, luxuriant playing and an intuitive sense of the music’s architecture.... She exploits the instrument’s natural resonance and colouristic potential throughout the recital and there are moments of sheer serenity.”
BBC Music Magazine May 2014
“A fine performance doing full credit to composer and transcriber..…sensitive and technically highly adept playing, making full use of the rich tone of her instrument. Her light touch in the fugal exposition and episodes is a genuine delight.. All in all, this most interesting recital can be warmly recommended”
International Record Review June 2014
“beautiful pieces, played very beautifully indeed… a very fine Bach recital,
well worth looking out for”
3MBS Melbourne May 2014
Penelope was delighted to play the wonderful Grieg Piano Concerto this year with the Huddersfield Philharmonic – one of the longest-running semi-professional orchestras in the country. Her poetic approach to the work was much appreciated:
"Its thunderous, almost over-familiar opening few bars means the Grieg Piano Concerto has the reputation for being a tempestuous and torrid piece of late romantic keyboard-bashing. In fact, much of the work - when it is heard in full - is rather reflective and pastoral in character.
These dimensions came over well in the performance by pianist, Penelope Thwaites, when she was the well-received soloist for the Huddersfield Phil's latest concert. Of course, the Grieg still requires a high level of extrovert, virtuosic pianism, which the soloist had at her command . . ."
Huddersfield Examiner 9 February 2014
BIOGRAPHY Born and resident in UK, Penelope grew up in Australia, winning first place on graduation in Music from Melbourne University.
Her London debut in 1974 at the Wigmore Hall launched an unusually varied career. She has won acclaim not just as an intensely communicative concert pianist and recording artist, but as composer, writer and editor, broadcaster and music festival curator. In 2001, she was awarded the Order of Australia for her work. She is recognised internationally as an exponent of Percy Grainger’s music, with over 250 tracks recorded (and more to come), and as editor of The New Percy Grainger Companion
Penelope is a musician with an exceptionally wide repertoire. Her London debut in 1974 featured the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Mussorgsky. She has gone on to perform both the well-known classics alongside rarely performed repertoire, such as the Constant Lambert Piano Sonata, and works by notable Australians such as Arthur Benjamin, Peter Sculthorpe and Peggy Glanville-Hicks.
Her CD, 'Travelling Between Worlds', includes many other favourite composers.
She has played as soloist with such orchestras as the London Philharmonic, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, Albany Symphony, and most of the leading Australian orchestras. She has broadcast frequently on the BBC and has devised series where she both introduced the music and performed it.
After graduating with highest honours at the top of her year in a B Mus degree from Melbourne University, she found herself initially working in and composing for the theatre. Hundreds of songs, four musicals and four revues later, she worked with West End artists on her musical (with Alan Thornhill) Ride!Ride!, a show that has continued in production with both amateurs and professionals ever since. Gramophone Magazine described the CD as “a compelling aural drama.”
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A Bach Recital
“expressive,luxuriant playing and an intuitive sense of the music’s architecture.... Thwaites’approach is refreshingly unfashionable, eschewing period style in favour of a Romantically–inspired pianistic approach. She exploits the instrument’s natural resonance and colouristic potential throughout the recital…there are moments too of sheer serenity”
from BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE REVIEW OF A BACH RECITAL, MAY 2014
Read the full review here
The Grainger Edition
“As for the three volumes of solo piano music, Penelope Thwaites understands the idiom totally...One is captivated by the charm of the music...all the famous pieces, as well as all sorts of delightful surprises, all beautifully played and recorded.”
THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO THE FINEST 1000 CLASSICAL RECORDINGS, 2012 (Chandos Grainger Edition)
“Thwaites gives commanding performances of the piano works...she plays the Lisztian-style arrangements from Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz and Strauss’s Rosenkavalier with sensitivity and musical finesse” THE AUSTRALIAN, 2011
Piano Volume 1 - In Dahomey
"a major contribution to the Grainger discography"
Grainger Edition Volume 16: FANFARE
Piano Volume 2 Track 20 - Country Gardens
"A wonderful album of Grainger's solo piano music."
BBC RADIO 3, CD REVIEW
Piano Volume 3 Track 6 - Bridal Lullaby Ramble
"I cannot imagine a more beautiful piano sound”
THE DELIAN, USA
Works for Chorus and Orchestra Track 14 - Handel in the Strand
"Handel in the
Strandstruts and carols its stuff most life-enchantingly in the hands of Penelope Thwaites and the CLS." MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL
Works for Pianos Track 11 - Random Round
“inspirited and radiantly polyphonic performances”
Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 1 Track 3 - Pastoral
"A Pair of Aces . . .It would be hard to imagine more sympathetic performances than these . . . . Thwaites and Lavender seem to breathe together."
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 2 Track 1 - Children's March
"Volume 2 of this highly accomplished series . . . excellent, zestful performances" GRAMOPHONE, 1993
Not currently available
Piano Music for 4 Hands Volume 3 Track 1 - Symphonic Dance No.1
“These CDs set feet tapping and hearts bounding….buy and treasure them”
Shepherd's Hey: Gems for Piano Track 17 - Paraphrase on Tchaikowsky's Flower Waltz
“The strange whimsy within his setting of The Power of Love, The Nightingale and Jutish Medley is complemented here by classics such as Country Gardens, Shepherds Hey and Handel in the Strand, all of them uniquely telling”
GRAMOPHONE (Critic’s Choice)
Chosen Gems for Piano Track 16 - Nell
"Grainger's gems are poetry for Thwaites ... her own individual style is marked by a genuine clarity and beauty of tone."
THE MELBOURNE AGE
Songs for Mezzo Soprano Track 2 - Died for Love
"This is a glorious disc."
GRAMOPHONE (Quarterly Choice)
Songs for Tenor Track 19 A Reiver's Neck-Verse
"... Thwaites is on terrific form ..."
GRAMOPHONE (Editor's Choice)
Songs for Baritone Track 8 - Hard-hearted Barb'ra
"Penelope Thwaites has received great acclaim as a Grainger specialist and deserves every bit of it. She may be the best accompanist I've heard since Gerald Moore - a wide range of colour, dramatically suitable to the text, and so at one with the singer that you'd swear there was only a single performer. This entire enterprise rises beyond the level of song recital to real chamber music."
Grainger Songs for Baritone - NET REVIEW
Travelling Between Worlds Track 2 - Chopin Nocturne in A flat Op.32 No.2
Penelope Thwaites’ deliciously poetic approach to Chopin’s imaginative pianism has been regularly on my CD player”
Ride! Ride! Track 15 - He Knows my Name
"Wonderfully catchy tunes...splendid voices. Musicals on disc rarely succeed unless you have the stage presentation fresh in your mind, but here the strength of Thornhill's libretto and the sheer variety of Thwaites' music combine to create a compelling aural drama." GRAMOPHONE, 2000
A Bach Recital - LIR Classics
Travelling Between Worlds - LIR Classics
Australian Piano Music (LP) - Discourses ABM30
Chosen Gems for PIano - Unicorn-Kanchana CD DKP 9127
Shepherd's Hey - Gems for Piano - REGIS RRC 1107
The Grainger Edition Vol 16 Works for Solo Piano CHAN 9895
The Grainger Edition Vol 17 Works for Solo Piano CHAN 9919
The Grainger Edition Vol 19 Works for Solo Piano CHAN 10205
Duo Recordings with John Lavender
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.1 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9611
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.2 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9623
Piano Music for 4 Hands Vol.3 - Pavilion Records(Pearl)SHE CD 9631
Multi-Piano with John Lavender, Wayne Marshall, et al
Grainger Edition Vol.10 - Chandos Records CD CHAN 9702
with Stephen Varcoe, Martyn Hill and Della Jones
Grainger Edition Vol.2 - Songs for Baritone Chandos CHAN 9503
Grainger Edition Vol.7 - Songs for Tenor Chandos CHAN 9610
Grainger Edition Vol.12 - Songs for Mezzo Chandos CHAN 9730
Debussy Volume 1 - Pagodes (arr. Grainger) - Cala CACD1001
Jungle-Book Cycle - Hyperion Records CDA66863
Grainger Edition Vol.3 Handel in the Strand - Chandos CHAN9499
An Introduction to Percy Grainger - Chandos
The Grainger Edition - Chandos
Composer and Performer
Ride! Ride! - SOMM Recordings
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THE NEW PERCY GRAINGER COMPANION
You can find out more about The New Percy Grainger Companion, Edited by Penelope Thwaites, at Boydell and Brewer
REVIEWS Thwaites has already contributed substantially to a Grainger revival ... Here, as an editor, she manages the trick of finely balancing the various competing aspects of Grainger's energetic and highly productive life ... This New Companion succeeds in its aim to portray a complicated man in all his variety ... TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT A highly readable and important volume. [It will] prove invaluable to both performers and researchers in years to come. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY
The New Percy Grainger Companion ... does Grainger's legacy a great service because of the rich, and at times unexpected, contexts against which the man and his music are set. MUSIC & LETTERS
This book successfully removes his masks of bravado, outrageousness, contradictions and obsessions to reveal a vulnerable, warm humane man, who was proud to call Australia home. STRINGENDO It is a breath of fresh air ... to encounter a book that concentrates exclusively on Grainger's work as a composer, pianist and pioneering thinker. ... it contributes very usefully to a better understanding of this truly remarkable Australian figure. MUSIC FORUM
Grainger is not just a composer, or a pianist, or an arranger, he is a phenomenon. And in The New Percy Grainger Companion we are given a vision of that phenomenon in the wealth of his music and in his wide global context. DELIUS SOCIETY JOURNAL
Thwaites and her fellow contributors go far in restoring to general consciousness the full scope of Grainger's work as composer, performer, and ethnomusicologist. The book has something to offer almost every conceivable audience. ... Recommended. CHOICE
This is an invaluable book about one of music's least understood practitioners. ... British-born Australian pianist and composer Penelope Thwaites has done a terrific job piecing together the jigsaw that was Grainger. THE AUSTRALIAN
This handsome volume is an invaluable - and essential - contribution towards a fuller understanding of a composer on the cusp of overdue rediscovery. CLASSICAL MUSIC Recommended without hesitation. THE DELIAN This book is full of useful advice. SYDNEY MORNING HERALD Generously filled with black and white photographs, reproductions of programmes and musical illustrations, this handsome volume is an invaluable - and essential - contribution towards a fuller understanding of a composer on the cusp of overdue recovery. INTERNATIONAL PIANO
NEW! Two fascinating programmes about Percy Grainger, drawing on Penelope’s unique experience of his music, both as scholar and pianist: 1. Lecture Recital
The Inimitable Percy Grainger
Telling the story of his remarkable life, illustrated with a dozen of his most colourful and touching solo piano works. 2. Illustrated lecture
Discovering Percy Grainger
A truly revealing spectrum of Grainger’s originality in myriad forms with recorded examples: world music and folk music settings, wind band works, orchestral, multi-piano, solo song and choral works.
Here was a musician who dared to think differently about almost every aspect of music and music-making.
Also included – an example of his own extraordinary pianism as a world-class virtuoso.
For further details and availability, please contact Penelope by email or telephone (details below)
Penelope’s work is published by Bardic/Schott, and includes songs, instrumental works and music for the theatre, including the Wesley musical Ride! Ride!
For details of the ‘Ride!Ride! vocal and full scores, libretto and orchestral parts, please go direct to
Contact Penelope Thwaites at:
Penelope Thwaites AM
23 Lyndale Avenue
Tel/Fax: +44 (0)207 7945090
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