Jonathan Powell (musician)

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Jonathan Powell in 2010

Jonathan Powell (born 1969) is a British pianist and self-taught composer.


Powell studied with Denis Matthews and Sulamita Aronovsky. He made his performing debut at the age of 20 in the Purcell Room in London.

His repertoire ranges from Bach to contemporary works, including composers as varied as Michael Finnissy, John White, Marco Ambrosini, Johannes Maria Staud and Christophe Sirodeau. He specialises in the works of the late Romantic era, including Russian music and Alexander Scriabin, on whose impact on Russian composers he wrote a dissertation at Cambridge University. Powell also contributed several articles to the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, including the one on Scriabin, and has published articles on various Soviet and Russian composers.[1][2]

Powell is best known for his advocacy of Sorabji's music, which he began performing regularly in the early 2000s. He has given 10 public performances of Sorabji's four-hour Opus clavicembalisticum (1929–30) and both performed and premiered other works by Sorabji, including the substantial Fourth Piano Sonata (1928–29) and the four-and-a-half-hour Piano Symphony No. 6, Symphonia claviensis (1975–76).[2][3] Most notably, in 2020, he released the premiere recording of Sorabji's eight-hour Sequentia cyclica super "Dies irae" ex Missa pro defunctis (1948–49),[3] which was met with considerable critical acclaim[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] and was recognised by the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics' Award) as the best piano recording in its "Quarterly Critics' Choice" for the second quarter of 2020.[12] Music writer Jed Distler said that Powell's performance has "a level of specificity and tonal application that gives new meaning to the word 'painstaking'" and makes "a compelling and standard-setting case for SC that will be hard to equal, let alone surpass",[4] and composer Christian B. Carey wrote that "Powell's dedicated work on behalf of Sorabji makes the composer's legacy seem assured."[10]

Powell's discography includes CDs for the Altarus,[3] Largo, Toccata, ASV, Danacord and Piano Classics labels, featuring works by Alexander Goldenweiser, Joseph Marx, Alexander Krein, Konstantin Eiges, and others.


  1. ^ "Jonathan Powell, pianist and composer". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Roberge, p. 384
  3. ^ a b c "The Sorabji Archive — Performers — Jonathan Powell (piano)". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b "A Stunning Sorabji Premiere From Jonathan Powell - Classics Today". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  5. ^ Goertz, Wolfram. "Virtuose Komposition: Ein Klavierstück von acht Stunden Dauer". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Review". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  7. ^ "SORABJI Sequentia Cyclica - PIANO CLASSICS PCL10206 [JW] Classical Music Reviews: April 2020 - MusicWeb-International". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  8. ^ " : Aktuelle CD-Besprechung, DVD-Kritik, CD-Besprechungen, DVD-Kritiken". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  9. ^ Heute, Klassik. "Sorabji". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Sequenza21/ » Jonathan Powell plays Sorabji (CD review)". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Sorabji: Sequentia Cyclica (Jonathan Powell)". Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Bestenliste 2-2020". Retrieved 7 August 2020.


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