Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
Apparently I was captivated by anything musical very early in my childhood. There wasn’t much music in my immediate family so it really was very much driven by me alone! I’ve no idea where the obsession came from but, by the time I was two years old, I was so enchanted by the whole thing that my family bought me a red toy piano – which I still have – and I would spend hours every day playing it. I must have been about three when my parents bought an old second-hand piano, and that was the instrument on which I started having proper lessons around the time of my 5th birthday. I can remember the frustration of not being able to read music and, as soon as I started learning, I began trying to compose. I have two “Piano Concertos” I attempted to write when I was five; the titles are there, in my childish handwriting, and each has three movements, with alternating fast-slow-fast tempo indications, so I’d clearly worked out what I was aiming at, but I’m not sure the musical content lived up to my ambition! Another strange thing I could do as a small child was to identify different makes of car from their sound. We would be in our back garden and I’d apparently tell my parents what kind of vehicle had just drawn up on the road outside. They would go and look, and I was always right. I’ve no idea how I did it, and I certainly couldn’t do it now! In fact I’m not especially interested in cars! But it does seem to me now that this strange perception must have been in some way connected with my musical ear. Things went from there, and from very early childhood I never seriously considered doing anything else.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
When I was five, my great-uncle died and, when the house was cleared, among the junk was a collection of 78 records, including one of Holst’s “Planets”, with Boult conducting. I was absolutely enthralled by these records, and loved the hiss and the way they shot around the turntable so much faster than the LPs of my era! From then on, I haunted secondhand, antique and junk shops for old 78s, and I built up a collection of five hundred or so within a few years. This really inspired me, and played a big part in shaping my musical tastes. I can still remember my excitement at finding three boxed sets of piano concertos in a charity shop in Dorchester one Saturday afternoon: the Brahms 2nd played by Backhaus, the Tchaikovsky 1st by Rubinstein, and the Beethoven “Emperor” by Schnabel. I must have been about 8, but I fell in love with the Brahms especially. I collected masses of records by Paderewski, Moiseiwitsch, Mark Hambourg, Myra Hess, Irene Scharrer, Cortot, Rachmaninov and many others, and by other instrumentalists too, including violinists such as Elman, Kreisler and Jan Kubelik. I became fascinated by this “golden age” and immersed myself in these characters, their playing and their world. Looking back, I think this was highly significant in my development as a musician, my knowledge of repertoire and my understanding of style. I was brought up, for instance – or rather, I brought myself up! – on Cortot, Hofmann and Paderewski playing Chopin and Schnabel playing Beethoven, whereas most of my contemporaries were listening to Ashkenazy, Barenboim and Brendel. It took me a long time to bother getting a CD player! To this day, many of the recordings I treasure are from this early period, before digital editing and where you can really sense the strong personality and aura of the performer, in a way that later trends and recording techniques – and the uniformity encouraged by more competitive and fast-paced later eras – have to some extent smoothed out. Of course there have been many wonderful artists since those days, but I think there’s something special about the pianism of that period, and absorbing it through this constant exploration was a big part of my childhood. I also played the cello and was also hugely inspired by the string playing of those bygone days. A bel canto quality, and the concentration on quality of sound that is so evident in the great piano playing of the late 19th and early 20th centuries became central to my own musical thinking.
So my early listening to great artists of the past was a real inspiration, but so too were (and are!) countless individuals who crossed my path, including some wonderful teachers and mentors. I am fortunate to have had some marvellous teachers, every one of whom gave me something unique and special, but there are two I must single out. When I was thirteen, I began going to London every Saturday for lessons with Rosemarie Wright at the Royal Academy of Music. These initially private lessons led to a scholarship to the Junior Academy, and I worked with her for five very happy and fulfilling years. When I went to her, I had got the highest marks that year for Grade Eight, was loving performing and devouring a wide spectrum of pieces. I played constantly and read about music voraciously, but I was technically very undisciplined and musically rather wilful. Rosemarie Wright really built me into the pianist I was to become, making me do lots of technical work and insisting on real polish, consistency and professionalism in everything I did. Not that I’ve always lived up to that, but I’ve tried to aspire to the standards and the commitment. She was exacting and inspiring, and also introduced me to a wider repertoire, kindling an interest in the Second Viennese School and in contemporary music. Her pedigree is impeccable – after studies with Craxton at the RAM and Seidlhofer in Vienna, she studied with Edwin Fischer and Wilhelm Kempff, and as a frequent recitalist for the BBC she pioneered a vast range of both standard and unusual repertoire in 50 years of broadcasting. Just as importantly, she was a musician of immense integrity, entirely uninterested in personal display or showmanship, whose dedicated aim was to serve and convey the intellectual, spiritual and emotional truths of the music she played. She really impressed upon me a sense of responsibility as an artist, and worked with me tirelessly, generously and intensively through the many recitals and concerto performances I gave during those teenage years, helping me to build a substantial repertoire and learn how to craft interesting and varied programmes. She also believed in me, which helped me to gain much-needed confidence at a turbulent time in my development. When I left the Academy at 18, Rosemarie Wright retired too, but we still speak regularly and I regard her as the greatest single influence upon my development as a pianist and musician. It’s rather nice that I have followed in her footsteps teaching at Southampton University, where she was Pianist-in-Residence during the 1970s!
Rosemarie Wright was the right person at the right time for me, and so too was my last teacher, the Russian pianist Mikhail Kazakevich, with whom I studied for three years in London on a scholarship from the Sheepdrove Trust. Whilst at college in Birmingham I entered the Newport International Piano Competition, and on the jury was Mikhail Kazakevich, After the competition had finished, he contacted me to say he had liked my playing – I think he particularly liked my Schubert B flat Sonata – and to offer me a scholarship to go on and work with him if I’d like to. I had heard him play, and loved what I’d heard. That, too, was a decisive encounter, and I loved every minute of my work with him. Before coming to England, Mikhail had been a student of, and later assistant professor to, Isaak Katz who, in turn, had been a favoured student of the legendary Russian pianist and professor Alexander Goldenweiser, to whom Rachmaninov dedicated his Second Suite for Two Pianos. Lessons with Mikhail lasted for many hours, sometimes all day, and included numerous cups of tea and custard doughnuts as well as extensive conversation, relating the repertoire I studied to art, literature and poetry as well as to a broad musical context. He produces the most magical sound, and I was privileged to absorb some of the Russian tradition from him. Mikhail’s artistry and teaching were constant inspirations, as was his unfailing support of my career, and his deep interest in my passion for British repertoire meant a great deal to me. He arranged several recitals for me in intimate venues in London, and he and his pianist wife Elena provided Russian food for the audience. Mikhail Kazakevich was the right man at the right time: I don’t remember ever working with him on technique as such, but he sharpened my ears and demanded absolute perfection of line and phrase, total fidelity to style and character, and constant self-critical listening. It was an inspiration and a tangible insight into the world of some of those Russian pianists of yesteryear whose work had so inspired me on the old records I listened to in my childhood!
I continue to be influenced and inspired by so many of the musicians I work with – and not only the musicians! I’ve been privileged to collaborate with some wonderful artists in chamber music, and to exchange insights with many gifted colleagues in both performing and teaching settings.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
There have been so many that I don’t know where to start! Life is a constant challenge – and in so many ways, not just musically and professionally! I’ve been incredibly fortunate, in my parents, mentors and teachers, and in so many wonderful people and situations I’ve encountered along the journey, but I know all too well that my experience could have been very different. I have two permanent conditions which cause me ongoing difficulty and make life more complex in certain specific ways. In infancy I was diagnosed with spastic diplegia (cerebral palsy) and, whilst I am only mildly affected by comparison with many others who have that diagnosis, the condition has had an impact on my life in subtle and curious ways. However, it didn’t explain the behavioural, emotional, social, sensory and processing difficulties, the high levels of anxiety and the problems with confusion and “missing the point” that I experienced throughout my schooldays. These chipped away at my confidence and self-esteem over the years and I suffered a breakdown whilst at college in Birmingham, during which I was diagnosed (at 21) as being on the autistic spectrum. I opted to go to Birmingham, where I have strong family links, because my trips to the Junior Academy had taught me that I couldn’t cope, physically and emotionally, with the pace of London life on a daily basis. My parents relocated to Worcestershire so as I could commute to Birmingham each day, without much walking, and study in a more relaxed and less pressurised environment. My Autistic Spectrum Condition, allied to my purely physical disability, has presented some unusual challenges to me in pursuing my career as a player and teacher, and I’d need much more space than is available here to enumerate them all. One of the most infuriating is my difficulty in processing the sense of touch, which means that I experience extreme discomfort from fabrics. That’s very miserable and also makes it difficult to get about, concentrate and function properly unless I’m wearing a very limited repertoire of soft fabrics, which doesn’t always include what I might like to wear for certain professional assignments. I respond very badly to certain types of stress and suffer from ongoing and severe anxiety, which worsens when I’m under pressure of various kinds. It has taken me a long time, and a lot of mistakes, to shape a professional lifestyle with which I can cope reasonably well, but I feel I’m closer to that ideal now than I ever have been. I’m tremendously lucky, and I know and appreciate that.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I think it’s very hard to think too much about your own performances, as one always wishes things had been better and hopes they will be next time! For the same reason, listening to one’s own recordings is a particularly disagreeable form of purgatory!! The world is overloaded with good pianists, and I’ve always been far more interested in finding an individual niche, exploring neglected repertoire and sharing it with people in a fresh, illuminating and thought-provoking way. There’s nothing I can do with a Beethoven Sonata that hasn’t been done many times before, far better than I could ever hope to do it, and I don’t have the temperament or stamina for a big international solo career, which was never my principal objective. I love my work in music education, teaching, adjudicating, giving lecture recitals and writing about music and musicians, and I get so fascinated by the stories of many of the lesser-known composers I encounter that I am burning to share my discoveries, through my playing and through talking and writing about what I’ve unearthed. Communication and a personal approach is key to creating fresh and exciting traditions in performance, and I think I’m at my best in an intimate recital context, introducing unusual and esoteric repertoire to receptive audiences in unusual ways in which I can have a creative input and give full rein to my artistic vision. As a pianist, I do feel that I have achieved my best things in the British and Irish solo and chamber repertoire, which has become a chief focus in my work. I’m incredibly fortunate that in recent years my career has received a new impetus through my association with Em Marshall-Luck’s imaginative and ground-breaking record label EM Records, which is dedicated to promoting, at the highest level, the rich musical heritage of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. I’ve had the opportunity to do what I do best, playing and recording some of the repertoire I’ve explored over the years, making new discoveries with recording projects in mind, and devising unusual recital programmes and titles for discs. I’m still particularly proud of the first record I made for EM Records, my two-disc set of E.J. Moeran’s complete piano music, coupled with pieces by Moeran’s English and Irish contemporaries. The repertoire is close to my heart, I’ve lived with and performed it for many years, and I felt very privileged to have the chance to set it down on disc in a format which really conveyed a personal “take” on it. Writing the booklet notes also gave me the opportunity to present the repertoire very much in my own style, much as I would in a lecture recital, and to highlight quirky and personal connections and my own thoughts about the composers and their work. I must admit that I’m especially (and uncharacteristically!) pleased with the last recital disc I made for the EM label, which features premiere recordings of a set of variations by Walford Davies, the “Five Western Watercolours” by Ivor Gurney and two works by Richard Francis, both of which I premiered some years ago. The disc is called “A Western Borderland” and the programming takes its title from the border country where England meets Wales, the area where all the composers hailed from. It was a lovely project, and I feel it represents the best of my work.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I think that the British repertoire does suit me particularly well, as I seem to have a feel for it without having to think too much about it. When I was younger, I always responded more instinctively to the romantic literature rather than the earlier baroque and classical, and I think that has broadly remained the case, although experience and stylistic discernment have closed the gap to some extent. My recent exploits in studying and playing on the harpsichord early English keyboard music, and also Bach, have given me a new delight in the riches of that end of the repertoire, but in my opinion it’s in 20th century British piano and chamber music that I’ve undoubtedly done my best work. I’ve always found particular pleasure in chamber music, and I’d also have to include English song, a field that has long been very special to me. Having said that I feel a particular affinity to British and Irish music, I have to add that some of the greatest piano writing of these islands is to be found in the chamber music and songs.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I try to exercise a certain amount of joined-up thinking, planning ahead to give myself the chance to play a work several times during the same period. Much of my work now centres on specific repertoire projects, many of them British, some of them contemporary and a great many in the chamber music field, so there’s a lot of variety in the material and I no longer tramp around the music clubs doing as many recitals of standard repertoire as I used to. Therefore I tend to work a more restricted repertoire of mainstream recital programmes each year than I used to, leaving space in my diary and brain for the more specific projects and unusual works. Clearly one tries to match up the diary to get the most mileage out of a work that has taken a lot of a learning, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Concerto dates tend to come out of the blue and carry very specific repertoire requirements, so I often find myself playing a series of entirely different concertos during a short period of time – as is happening this month, when I’m doing the Brahms 2nd, Rachmaninov 2nd, Shostakovich 2nd and Moeran Rhapsody within the space of two weeks. If I’m recording something, I like to try it out beforehand, so I’ll programme it into a concert if I can.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I love smaller, intimate venues. I like to talk to the audience and to build a relationship with them, and to present repertoire and composers in ways with which the hearers can connect and identify and which help them to discover new things in the music. I think this is essential in order for our profession to survive and evolve, and it is vital to find new, interesting, relevant and engaging ways to share and project the music we play. I love small venues which have character and history, and I have a particular fondness for playing in old churches, where the spiritual resonances can be strongly felt. I am also very interested in making links between the arts, and art galleries can make wonderful venues too. I love the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, also one of Dublin’s principal recital venues and a gorgeous place to play. It has all the intimacy I spoke about, plus real aesthetic beauty of its own in addition to the artistic richness and vitality you’d expect. The venue for which I have the greatest affection has to be the beautiful Lion Ballroom Arts Centre in the Herefordshire market town of Leominster. Its beautiful Georgian interior is pleasing to the eye, and there is an intimacy and rusticity which I personally find deeply satisfying and relaxing. I first played there in 2001 and for the past few years I’ve presented my own concert series there, covering a vast amount of repertoire often in “themed” programmes, such as “Scandinavian Piano Music,” “Czech Piano Music”, “Russian Piano Music”, or one-composer lecture recitals. Somehow I always feel especially comfortable playing there and, being relaxed and among friends, I feel I am more likely to play my best there, and in the kind of programmes I most love to give. I also have an ongoing close collaboration and friendship with Alan and Maureen Crumpler, who live in Leominster and to whom the Ballroom’s artistic vitality owes a great deal. Alan is an extraordinary musician, instrument maker and recording producer, and recording in the Ballroom with Alan is one of my greatest pleasures. Alan and Maureen have also stimulated and encouraged my new interest in the harpsichord and have lent me a harpsichord and clavichord. It’s appropriate and very special to me that my first harpsichord recitals have been at the Ballroom. Closer to my home in Dorset, I love giving recitals in the County Museum in Dorchester, which is a very special and atmospheric venue.
Having said how much I enjoy the smaller venues, I do enjoy big concert halls too, and I have a soft spot for Birmingham’s Town Hall and Symphony Hall. I premiered the Andrew Downes Piano Concerto at the Town Hall just a few months after it reopened after its decade-long closure and extensive refurbishment. That is an incredible venue with an extraordinary history, and the interior is now more impressive than ever. It was a real privilege, as Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Elgar’s Gerontius also received their premieres there, of course. Birmingham is so lucky to have two of the finest British concert halls.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I have already alluded to my affinity with English piano music; perhaps this is because I’ve spent most of my life in rural parts of England, with lots of time in the countryside! Of the mainstream piano literature, I have always felt especially comfortable playing the romantic repertory, in particular Brahms, Schumann and Chopin. I played the Brahms F minor Sonata at my first St Martin-in-the-Fields recital right at the beginning of my career in 1998, alongside piano music by Vaughan Williams, and that juxtaposition of English music with big romantic works has always been a feature of my programming. Audiences find that interesting and satisfying, too. The Brahms-Handel Variations is another favourite work of mine which I’ve played many times, as is the Brahms B Flat Concerto, with which I feel very comfortable somehow. The sound world of that and the F minor Sonata is my natural territory, in which I can relax and feel very much at home although, as those are both rather dark works I dread to think what that says about me! I’ve also played the Schumann Fantasy a lot, and that’s another favourite, as are the Waldszenen and the Schumann Concerto, which was the first concerto I ever played in public. I also love to explore byways of the repertoire other than English: Scandinavian piano music is a bit of a passion, as is Russian repertoire, with Medtner being a longstanding interest of mine. I must mention my deep interest in contemporary music, which Rosemarie Wright encouraged all those years ago. I’ve had longstanding connections with lots of composers ever since my days at the Junior Academy, and it has been an immensely rewarding and endlessly fascinating thing. Two composers I’ve had particular links with have been Andrew Downes and John Joubert, who both wrote piano sonatas for me, which was a great honour. I do like a very varied diet in my musical life and, although I’ve given a lot of solo recitals and played plenty of concertos, I enjoy breaking up the pattern with the occasional organ recital (and now harpsichord as well), and have played lots of chamber music and given recitals with many instrumentalists and singers over the years. I couldn’t cope with an entirely one-track career, either in repertoire terms or in terms of the spread of my musical life, and I’d be lost without my teaching, writing, harpsichord and organ playing and research. These elements all feed and nourish one another, and help me to keep evolving and, hopefully, maturing as a musician and communicator. I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky to have done all the playing I have, to have enjoyed most of it, to have had some wonderful opportunities to explore on such a broad canvas, and to share all that with receptive students.
In terms of my favourite music to listen to, I love a wide range but rarely listen to solo piano music. I listen to a lot of British and Irish music, and within that field I’d have to reserve a special place for Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Ireland, Howells, Moeran and Finzi. I’m particularly fond of listening to French and Russian music too. I listen to quite a lot of choral music and song, and much organ and harpsichord music, as well as plenty of orchestral works and chamber music. Much of my serious listening is done whilst driving, which I do constantly – around 30,000 miles a year – and if I don’t feel like music I revert to Radio 4! If I’m working on a particular composer I try to listen to their works in other genres, and to immerse myself in the music of their friends, teachers and contemporaries too. It’s so important to read and listen “around” the music one is studying.
Who are your favourite musicians?
That’s an almost impossible question to answer, because I admire so many in a vast range of fields, and one has to constantly look, listen, learn and develop in this business. If I were to think specifically of pianists, I would happily – depending to some extent on the repertoire – include Moiseiwitsch, Cortot, Josef Lhevinne, Artur Schnabel, Edwin Fischer, Myra Hess, Horowitz, Claudio Arrau, Clifford Curzon, Emil Gilels, Dinu Lipatti, Vladimir Sofronitzki……The list goes on! Of a later generation, I love Radu Lupu’s playing, and have been immensely inspired by his playing on some wonderful occasions in the last few years. I also treasure the artistry of Mischa Elman, Lionel Tertis, Casals and many other string players. I’m fascinated by so many figures, however, and there’s something to be learned from every one of them – and not only from the greatest or most lauded luminaries in the fields of composition, performance and scholarship. Many forgotten names in musical history can offer compelling insights.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I’ve had my fair share of bizarre experiences – but, on the purely humorous front, I’ll never forget a recital I gave in the beautiful home of a delightful couple who lived near me in Worcestershire, and who hosted concerts in their drawing room to raise money for local charities. In fact, I gave several concerts there, and they were always lovely occasions, but this particular time we had become so absorbed in conversation before the concert that I hadn’t bothered to check the piano was positioned to my liking. The audience applauded, I walked out and bowed before turning to sit down and begin the recital. But to my horror – and theirs! – I couldn’t sit down as the piano was wedged right in to the wall, with the stool underneath but no room to manoeuvre it to sit down! I turned to the audience, and to the owners of the house, who proceeded to lift it – one lifting and one taking the weight underneath – while the audience and I observed! I can remember them shouting to one another “Count to three, then heave!” and I’m sure all that was far more entertaining for the audience than anything I could offer by way of a concert afterwards.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Being so involved in music education, this question naturally absorbs me a great deal. Above all, to be open, humble and adaptable. It’s of immense value, in my opinion, to maintain a very broad and questioning approach, seeing one’s work in the context of the wider musical and artistic fields and not restricting the vision simply to playing the piano or the violin. I always encourage young musicians to nourish extensive curiosities, playing and listening to a huge range of repertoire. It’s crucial to play chamber music, explore early instruments, dig into and read about composers, other figures from musical history, unusual repertoire, listen to as many artists as possible and experience as many different traditions as possible. In today’s music profession, versatility and adaptability are watchwords and employability depends on creative thinking and musical self-reliance. And, if you like doing something and have a passion for sharing and extending your work in that field, you just might be able to integrate that into your career. Above all, keep exploring, keep learning and retain a sense of humour! It’s also vital to cultivate and feed a constant inner discipline if one is to succeed in this profession, and to be organised and businesslike on a practical level. Moreover it’s essential to love music (obvious as that might sound) and to retain a sense of the bigger picture in order to cope with the inevitable rejections and disappointments that are part of every artist’s life. Above all, be true to yourself and keep a focus on your love of the art itself rather than on the perceived outward trappings of success!:
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I prefer not to look this far ahead….my maxim is to enjoy life in the here and now without trying to second-guess the unknown. Life is short and there’s much to be done but in 10 years I’d like still to be healthy, surrounded by people I care about and able to enjoy living life to the full, whatever my projects and surroundings might be by then! I don’t have a long term plan, but I do value people, health and peace of mind above all. With those in place, the rest will follow.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being plagued by lifelong and severe anxiety, I treasure the clear-headedness to be free of all that and fully able to enjoy the many wonderful things and people in life. More specifically, roaming the wilds of the countryside, especially in the Welsh Border country and Scottish borders. I love driving the isolated lanes with an old-fashioned map and chancing upon a secluded bookshop with a rambling secondhand section and a sideline in serving fresh coffee and homemade cakes. There are quite a few such places and, if I had a better business head, I’d rather like to run one, but mine would have piano and chamber concerts going on as well.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Relishing the great unknown that is life. Researching, writing, driving, having time to practise the piano properly.
What is your present state of mind?
Optimistic, deeply grateful for the many wonderful privileges you’ve just given me the chance to look back over, and mindful that I must get back to my lengthening “to do” list!!!
Friday 24th March 2017 at 7.30pm
Birmingham and Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham
The Piano Music of John Joubert
Duncan Honeybourne has had a long association with the piano music of John Joubert. To mark Joubert’s ninetieth birthday on 20th March, he presents a complete survey of Joubert’s piano output in the presence of the composer, in the city where he has made his home for over half a century. The recital ranges from the early Dance Suite, through all three sonatas – the third dedicated to Duncan Honeybourne – to the jewelled romanticism of the Lyric Fantasy on themes from the opera Jane Eyre, of which Duncan gave the first broadcasts, on Radio New Zealand and in Joubert’s birthplace, South Africa.
Commended by International Piano magazine for the “suave confidence” of his playing, DUNCAN HONEYBOURNE has established a rich and diverse career as a pianist and in music education. He made his debut as soloist at Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the National Concert Hall, Dublin, in 1998, and recital debuts included London, Paris and the Miry Concertzaal in Ghent, Belgium, during the Gentsche Festspiele. His 2-CD debut solo album was described by the Gramophone as “a set not to be missed by all lovers of English music”, and received 4 stars in Musical Opinion and BBC Music Magazine, which reported: “There are gorgeous things here. Hard to imagine better performances.” Duncan has toured extensively as recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium and Switzerland, appearing at many major venues and leading festivals. His solo performances have been frequently broadcast on radio networks worldwide including BBC Radio 3 (UK), RTÉ (Ireland), Radio Suisse Romande (Switzerland), YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company), SABC (South Africa), ABC Classic FM (Australia) and Radio New Zealand. Several celebrated composers have dedicated new piano works to Duncan, including John Joubert, Sadie Harrison, the late Peter Reynolds and Andrew Downes, whose Piano Concerto he premiered at Birmingham Town Hall in 2009. His discography includes a wide range of British and Irish piano and chamber music, featuring the complete solo piano music of Moeran and premiere recordings of works by Walford Davies and Ivor Gurney, alongside piano music by Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Bax, Howells and many lesser known composers. His solo discs have been selected as MusicWeb International Recording of the Year and CD of the Week on FMR Radio in South Africa. Duncan is a Tutor in Piano at the University of Southampton.