The Silver Dial was a story Andrew first heard of as he was growing up, in which a young English soldier goes to war and takes with him an old silver pocket watch, which has the power to contain and recall twelve special memories – people, places, and feelings – which the soldier knew before departing for the battlefield.
Then, quite unexpectedly, the story was brought back to mind by the Dr Who episode, Human Nature, in 2007, in which The Doctor, pursued by aliens threatening his life, hides his Time Lord identity within a silver watch, leaving his companion, Martha, to look after it. It revived the story in Andrew’s mind, and gave him the inspiration to look for musical ways of expressing similar memories – although it was a few years before he actually began the process.
He recorded the album in August 2015 at Potton Hall, in the picturesque and tranquil surroundings of the Suffolk countryside. His producer and recording engineer was Phil Hobbs, one of the country’s most in-demand music producers. Andrew states that working closely with Phil to hone and shape each piece, and the collection as a whole, was an absolute creative delight.
He approached the recording dates with 18 pieces on the table. After some thought (and a lot of playing) he left three at home, hoping to improve them at a later date (one has already found its way onto the long-list for his next album). Phil and Andrew recorded 15 tracks at Potton Hall, and spent quite some time discussing which worked best for this album, both musically and thematically, before arriving at these final twelve.
The twelve pieces which make up The Silver Dial collection remain very faithful to the original concept. That was always very important to Andrew, and he was determined that the finished album would reflect the theme he had started out with as his inspiration. Thus, the twelve compositions blend imagined memories a First World War soldier might carry with him on the battlefield, pieces which evoke actual experiences he might have had at the time (such as White Cliffs or Letter From Home) and particular memories of his own (such as Into The Trees or Esther’s Favourite Place) – often places which are special to Andrew and his family.
This album – his first for solo piano – is incredibly special to him. It has been almost three years from first sitting down at the keyboard to the day of its release. In these days when the classical music scene is more varied than ever, and a whole new audience is coming to the classical sound via a minimalist, accessible, often contemplative ethos, Andrew have tried to write a collection of pieces that not only fit into this ethos and have (hopefully) wide appeal, but also create something a little bit different – twelve pieces which evoke sights and sounds, people, places and deep emotions, and which hopefully tell a story of their own. They have been loved and nurtured over these three years, and have almost become his friends. Andrew hopes they become yours too.