Prima Facie Records

CD label featuring world premières by British composers

Giles Stephen
Prima Facie Records was formed by the meeting of two minds – Stephen Plews and the late Giles Easterbrook – both known in the music industry as champions of new music. They have produced or promoted hundreds of projects, many of which have won awards or been recognised as outstanding contributions to the arts.

Prima Facie

Prima Facie would like to remember friends and supporters of the label who have sadly passed away in 2021 – David Beck, Stephen Wilkinson, Gordon Crosse, Giles Easterbrook, Christina Plews and David Jepson:

Prima Facie

Out Now

The Holy Boy: Christmastide in Albion (PFCD170) £12.50

Timothy Dickinson (bass-baritone) and Duncan Honeybourne (piano)

01. The Little Road To Bethlehem – Michael Head
02. Carol Of The Skiddaw Yowes – Ivor Gurney
03. The Monkey's Carol – Charles Stanford
04. Chrissesmas Day In The Morning – Gustav Holst
05. The Bayly Berith The Bell Away – Peter Warlock
06. Bethlehem Down – Peter Warlock
07. From Five Fantasies On Polish Christmas Carols I. God Is Born – Arnold Bax
08. From Five Fantasies On Polish Christmas Carols ii. Lullay, Dear Jesus – Arnold Bax
09. From Five Fantasies On Polish Christmas Carols iii. Merrily To Bethlehem – Arnold Bax
10. O Dame Get Up And Bake Your Pies (Variations on a North Country Christmas Carol) – Arnold Bax
11. The Oxen (from Hodie) – Ralph Vaughan Williams
12. Balulalow – Peter Warlock
13. Tyrley, Tyrlow – Peter Warlock
14. The Frostbound Wood – Peter Warlock
15. Corpus Christie Carol (from A Boy Was Born) – Benjamin Britten
16. The Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol – Percy Grainger
17. A Christmas Carol – Malcolm Williamson
18. Lucy's Carol – Mark Hankey
19. The Carol Of The Field Mice – Michael Head
20. Noel – H. Balfour Gardiner
21. Make We Merry – Norman Fulton
22. The Holy Boy – John Ireland

Total time: 65:49

The Holy Boy CD

"The idea for this programme of Christmas music was sparked by a handful of songs and a handful of singers. Having rather hurriedly gathered together repertoire for a Christmas concert in December 2020, after months of cancelled and postponed performances, it dawned on us that the few songs we had chosen (among them ‘The Little Road To Bethlehem’, ‘The Holy Boy’, ‘The Oxen’ and ‘The Bayly Berith The Bell Away’) belonged together and would sit very happily in an expanded programme of similar music. Little did we know how rich a seam we were to discover, and how much of this repertoire seems to have been sadly neglected."

For more details, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Kenneth Hamilton plays Liszt Volume 1: Death and Transfiguration (PFCD167/168) £15.00

Kenneth Hamilton – piano

A UK Official Classical Chart Top 5 Recording
Featured in the Guardian Best Classical New Releases of 2021

CD 1
1. Funérailles (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses) 11'58''
2. Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses) 15'29''
3. Csárdás Macabre 7'12''
4. Pensée des Morts (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses)12'14''
5. Nuages Gris 2'40''
6. Sonata in b minor27'23''
CD 2
1. Ballade no. 2 in b minor 14'36''
2. En rêve (Nocturne) 2'09''
3. Abschied (Farewell): Russian Folksong 2'30''
4. Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth 6'08''
5. Dem Andenken Petofis 3'36''
6. Ave Maria (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses) 6'29''
7. Schubert/Liszt: Impromptu in Gb major 6'19''
8. Prelude on “Weinen, klagen” 5'43''
9. La Lugubre Gondola 1 4'21''
10. Romance 3'21''
11. Romance Oubliée 3'28''
12. Die Lorelei 6'29''
13. In Festo Transfigurationis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi 2'31''
14. Wagner/Liszt: Isoldens Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde 7'11''

Death and Transfiguration CD

"This wide-ranging collection of Liszt’s piano music meets its technical challenges with rare directness and clarity... As in Hamilton’s earlier discs –his recordings of Ronald Stevenson’s piano works especially- there is always the feeling that the music comes first, that the performances are a means to an end rather than a self-regarding end in themselves, and that is both liberating and totally refreshing for the listener." Andrew Clements, The Guardian
"A magnificent release, its contents perfectly judged and delivered with a balanced mix of virtuosity and intellect.“ Colin Clarke, Classical Explorer
"Kenneth Hamilton knows how to turn a CD into a deeply engaging intellectual and musical experience. He is one of the great treasures of the classical-music world today." Ralph Locke, ArtsFuse
"A fresh look at the composer’s career… this is a recording that brings the listener closer to Liszt’s inner personality." James Manheim, AllMusic
"Magisterial... a close and personal look at Liszt’s own thirst for spiritual sustenance and regeneration, his response to bereavement and how he found his peace...There is not a single vulgar work or superfluous note in these 152 minutes of music." Dr Chang Tou Liang, Pianomania
"Masterly readings…the pianist is one of these rare mortals whose erudite, elegant prose is matched by his eloquence at the keyboard... I cannot recommend this release too highly" Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

This is a Liszt recording with a difference: repertoire reflecting love, death and transfiguration, memory and nostalgia, performed by internationally renowned pianist and Liszt expert Kenneth Hamilton. It goes without saying that Hamilton has intensively studied the original scores of these pieces, but in addition he has sought out and taken seriously Liszt’s often ignored recommendations on their interpretation, passed down from the many reminiscences and recordings of students who worked closely with the composer. He has, in effect, tried to think like a Liszt pupil, to immerse himself in a performance tradition that goes beyond the printed text, and to respect Liszt’s long legacy of teaching his own music.

For more details, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Opalescence (PFCD171) £12.50

Piano and chamber music by Ruth Gipps

Sonata for cello and piano, op. 63 (1978) – world premiere recording
The Fairy Shoemaker (1929) – world premiere recording
Theme and Variations, op. 57a (1965)
The Ox and the Ass Introduction and Carol, op. 71 (1988)
Opalescence, op. 72 (1989)
Scherzo and Adagio for Unaccompanied Cello, OP. 68 (1987) – world premiere recording
Sonata for Double Bass and Piano, op. 81 (1996) – world premiere recording

Opalescence CD

This extraordinarily gifted musical polymath, a woman of powerful creative imagination and intense intellectual rigour, was first and foremost a composer. As memories of Gipps (or ‘Wid’, as she always liked to be called) recede with the passing years, we are left solely with her output of some eighty works as a memorial to her daring, questing, romantic spirit. Cast in a broad range of forms and genres, these are fastidious in craftsmanship, overwhelmingly tonal, invariably lyrical and poetic, and frequently deeply affecting. ‘My music’, she wrote, to her biographer Jill Halstead, ‘is a follow-on from Vaughan Williams, Bliss and Walton – the three giants of British music since the Second World War. All were great and inspired composers.’ A vigorous exploration of Gipps’s wide-ranging output certainly offers abundant evidence of a highly individual genius whose vivid and communicative personality is unmistakeably and strongly her own. Many influences are distilled in her work, but a full- blooded originality sings throughout. This recording delves into a selection of Gipps’s chamber works, and presents her complete œuvre for solo piano, to commemorate the centenary of her birth in 2021. It features her first work – 'The Fairy Shoemaker' – and her last, the 'Sonata for double bass and piano', separated by some sixty-seven years.

Joseph Spooner (cello)
David Heyes (double bass)
Duncan Honeybourne (piano)

For more details, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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The Last Letter – Symphony No. 1 – Seagull Nebula (PFCD164) £12.50

Composed by Michael Csányi-Wills
Performed by Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra – Conductor Mark Eager, Cello Steffan Morris

The Last Letter (7:44)
Symphony No. 1 – Andantino (8:10)
Symphony No. 1 – Scherzo (5:44)
Symphony No. 1 – Sarabande (12:38)
Symphony No. 1 – Con Moto (8:51)
Seagull Nebula (12:05)

Prima Facie is pleased to announce the fourth release in its collaboration with Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra and conductor Mark Eager. The disc features the world première recordings of Michael Csányi-Wills’ 'The Last Letter' and 'Seagull Nebula', alongside the previously-released, masterly 'Symphony No. 1'.

'The Last Letter', originally written for Soprano and Piano, but arranged for Cello and Orchestra for the Welsh Sinfonia in 2013, reflects on the deepy-moving last letter written by Csányi-Wills' great-grandmother Iréne Csányi.

'Seagull Nebula' was commissioned by Mark Eager and the Welsh Sinfonia, and sets out to describe a journey through space towards the Seagull Nebula, which was discovered by Welsh amateur astronomer Isaac Roberts.

This symphony is a significant, large scale work - brilliantly orchestrated, and a wonderful showcase for the talented students of Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra.

For more details, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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The Complete Solo Piano Music of John Joubert (1927-2019) (PFCD162/163) £15.00

Duncan Honeybourne - piano

Disc One:
1 Piano Sonata no.1 Sonata in One Movement, Op. 24
2-4 Piano Sonata no.2, Op71
5-7 Piano Sonata no.3, Op. 157

Disc Two:
1 Evocations - a rhapsody for piano
2-6 Dance Suite, Op. 21
7 Lyric Fantasy on themes from the opera Jane Eyre

Piano Music of John Joubert

Duncan Honeybourne’s recording of Joubert’s piano music was first released by Prima Facie in February 2019, a few weeks after the composer’s death. This second edition offers something extra: a remarkable work from Joubert’s years as a student at the Royal Academy of Music. In December 2020 Joubert’s daughter Anna discovered the manuscript of Evocations, a rhapsody for piano, which John had written at the age of 22. Honeybourne writes: "I felt that we should add Evocations to my existing recording of Joubert’s piano music, to offer a truly complete conspectus of this very distinctive composer’s writing for solo piano. This new set of two discs is the result."

For more details, please see the CD web page

Prima Facie

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Romantic Piano Encores (PFCD160) £12.50

Kenneth Hamilton – piano

An Official Classical Chart Top10 Recording
An AllMusic Editor’s Choice Recording
A Music Web International Recording of the Month

1. J. S. Bach/Alexander Siloti: Prelude in b minor (2’49”)
2. John Dowland/Percy Grainger: “Now, O now, I needs must part” (3’46”)
3. J. S. Bach/Charles Valentin Alkan: Siciliano (2’03”)
4. Felix Mendelssohn: Fantasy on the Irish Air “The Last Rose of Summer” (7’19”)
5. Percy Grainger: Irish Tune from County Derry (3’38”)
6. Robert Schumann/Franz Liszt: Widmung (3‘24“)
7. Richard Strauss/Percy Grainger: Rosenkavalier Ramble (6’42”)
8. Percy Grainger: Colonial Song (5’51”)
9. Johann Strauß/Ignaz Friedman: Voices of Spring Waltz (9’39”)
10. Edward Elgar: In Smyrna (3’35“)
11. Camille Saint-Saëns/Lawrence Glover: The Swan* (2’09”)
12. Ignaz Paderewski: Nocturne in Bb major, op. 16 no. 4 (4’00”)
13. Peter Tchaikovsky/Sergei Rachmaninov: Lullaby (4’50”)
14. Leopold Godowsky: Symphonic Metamorphosis on Johann Strauss’s ‘Artist’s Life’ Waltz (14’55”)
* First Recording
Total running time: 74’46”

Romantic Piano Encores CD

Kenneth Hamilton writes:
"This is an album of pieces I’ve long loved to play. It’s also a paradox: encores without a preceding programme; musical icing without the cake. But the tracks here were at least recorded as “encores”—played in joyful relaxation and relief towards the end of sessions largely devoted to other albums. Some of the pieces are pretty short, including the premiere recording of the elegant arrangement of Saint-Saëns’ Swan by one of my teachers, the late Lawrence Glover. Three of them – Mendelssohn’s quirky “Last Rose of Summer”, Grainger’s luscious Rosenkavalier Ramble, and Ignaz Friedman’s fabulous version of Voices of Spring – are fairly substantial, and the anchors of the programme. The final track (Godowsky’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on the “Artist’s Life” Waltz) is even longer. It’s really too long, I admit, to be an encore in a public concert, but it’s undeniably a lot of fun, and makes a great close for a CD. Hopefully, listeners will be both shaken and stirred."

For more details, please see the CD web page

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Featured Artists

Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton
Mark Darvill-Evans
Mark Darvill-Evans


Giles Easterbrook album download

The Moon Underwater CD cover

Giles Easterbrook, co-founder of Prima Facie Records, who sadly passed away on September 1st, 2021, composed music characterised by a ‘pronounced, sometimes astringent melodic gift’, ‘rhythmic subtlety’ and ‘an original, often unexpected harmonic sense’. 

Giles’ 2010 CD 'The Moon Underwater' has been out of print for some time, and as a tribute to him, Prima Facie Records have decided to make the music from the CD available, free, for streaming and high-quality download.

You can access the album at The Moon Underwater

ASC / Prima Facie at 25 – Concert

St Paul's concert poster

A special concert to celebrate 25 years of ASC / Prima Facie Records – and the 60th birthday of founder Stephen Plews – was held on 18th September 2021. The concert was in memory of our co-founder Giles Easterbrook.

Performers at the concert included Victoria String Quartet, pianists Alessandra Pompili and Simon Passmoe, recorderist John Turner, seen in the photo above, jazz duo Gavin Barras and Stephen Plews, and the Pleyel Ensemble. The varied programme featured music by Mozart, Britten and others.

Read more on the Prima Facie blog and this British Music Society review by Andrew Mayes

Kenneth Hamilton

Romantic Piano Encores Allmusic

Prima Facie are pleased to announce that Kenneth Hamilton's 'Romantic Piano Encores' is an ALLMUSIC Editor's Choice CD. Read the review, and for more details / audio samples see the CD webpage.

David Golightly CD in preparation

We are pleased to be involved in a project recording music by David Golightly - an extensive biography and list of works can be found here.

Featured in this short clip is the Lawson Trio recording at the RNCM on 07/04/21, performing an extract from David’s intensely personal and moving work 'Letters of Regret'.

Prima Facie will be releasing a CD of David’s work featuring the world premiere recording of Letters of Regret, and existing works 'Moods for Solo Clarinet', 'Piano Sonata No 1' and David’s epic 'Symphony No 1'.

Kenneth Hamilton radio interview

More Preludes to Chopin CD
Prima Facie artist Kenneth Hamilton is featured on the US radio show 'Conducting Conversations', discussing his new CD 'More Preludes to Chopin'. The show features music from the CD and discusses Kenneth's career. Listen here:


Byzantium Connection
Review for The Byzantium Connection:
"There is much here to enjoy, whether you like classical, jazz, improvisation, contemporary, or just enjoy hearing really good music. A great CD with much to offer." David Heyes, Bass Magazine

Contemporary Piano Soundbites
Reviews for Contemporary Piano Soundbites:
"...this remarkable set of pieces...the recital seems to me perfect in every way. Duncan Honeybourne is a great champion for all these composers." John France, MusicWeb International
"The standard of the compositions and their interest and accessibility are all high...The recording is natural and warm...The booklet essay gives excellent background information on each of the composers and on their pieces." Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International

John Joubert piano Music
Reviews for The Piano Music of John Joubert:
"(Joubert’s complete piano music) is featured here in glittering performances from Duncan Honeybourne… The performances are fluent and powerful, alive to the full range of Joubert’s mercurial invention." International Piano, July 2019
"These are bold piano works that have earned their place in classical music history." British Music Society Journal, 2019
"This CD is a landmark with all Joubert's piano music... Honeybourne is totally sympathetic throughout this CD - a well-recorded claim for a neglected chapter in British piano music." (*****5 stars) Musical Opinion, Jan-March 2020

Ronald Stevenson Vol 2 CD
Reviews for Kenneth Hamilton Plays Ronald Stevenson Volume 2:
"I cannot fault the wonderful performance by Kenneth Hamilton of these works. The recording is always clear and bright. The entire programme is a subtle balance between original music and arrangements which well-reflects Stevenson’s achievement." John France, Music Web International
"A well-constructed, varied recital…performed with commendable verve." Guy Rickards, International Piano Magazine

Preludes to Chopin CD
MusicWeb Recording of the Month review for On the Shoreline
"The playing on this CD is outstanding. Every piece is delivered with care, commitment and obvious enthusiasm."

Preludes to Chopin CD
Reviews for Preludes to Chopin:
"Brilliantly captures both the musical and the technical content…well judged and beautifully played." John France, Music Web International
"This recording has a uniquely special sound, which drapes the music in a round, full, Romantic tone-colour." Radio 100.7 Luxembourg
"The commercial success of this release shows how strongly audiences hunger for fresh interpretations of mainstream repertory, and a fresh interpretation is exactly what you get." James Manheim, AllMusic

Return of the Nightingales CD
Excellent reviews
for Sadie Harrison's Return of the Nightingales