These four pieces form part of a collection of miscellaneous piano solos which will one day constitute a single collection of preludes whose composition will span my entire creative life.
In July 2013 my friend, the pianist Duncan Honeybourne, came with me to Eastbourne for a couple of days, to record some piano music in the fabulous Birley Centre. This state-of-the-art performing & recording studio facility was built by Eastbourne College, with many very generous donations, and opened by my father Michael Birley in October 2011. The centre is named after him. He had been the inspirational Headmaster who transformed the College into the successful liberal establishment it has been since the 1960s, and vastly improved the physical nature of the place, funded by a centenary appeal. I can remember when this appeal reached the £1m level in the days when this was a vast sum of money. I spent my happiest time as a child growing up here. I am immensely proud of my father, and so pleased that, despite his failing health and state of mind, he was able to perform the opening ceremony. He died in January 2012.
Duncan had been working on three of these Preludes (as well as the Plainsong Variations), and these are his first interpretations. I am, as always, greatly indebted to him for his playing of my music. I am also very grateful to the College, and Simon Davies (the Headmaster) for allowing me to record in the Centre, and particularly to Hal Robinson, the recording engineer, who worked so hard and so expertly to create these recordings:
The first live performances of Preludes 1, 2 & 4, by Duncan Honeybourne, recorded in the Birley Centre (Eastbourne College) in July 2013. Hal Robinson was the recording engineer: