Roy Howat enjoys a large varied repertoire. His renowned expertise in the French piano school has resulted in prominent and deserved exposure for the marvellous and long-underestimated music of Emmanuel Chabrier.
His performances, lectures and writings on Schubert’s late music (especially sonatas) have led to some reassessment of the symphonic and architectonic skill that Schubert wore so lightly under his melodic and harmonic gifts. Howat’s performances, informed by alertness to Schubert’s large metric and rhythmic structures, balance the music’s intensity with its inherent dance, avoiding sagging or sentiment. He once stood in at a day’s notice to broadcast the C minor Sonata live from Sydney (on ABC Classic FM), and on another occasion did likewise for an indisposed Peter Katin to perform the B-flat Sonata.
In the field of British music Howat has introduced French and other overseas audiences to piano music of Elgar and John Ireland that are heard rarely enough even in the UK. His performances of Billy Mayerl‘s piano music (which he has played since primary school) have been broadcast worldwide, and recorded at concerts for the Billy Mayerl Society.
In 1994 Roy Howat commissioned and premiered Three Lyric Pieces, the major piano work by Scotland’s doyen of composers Robin Orr, a vigorous and challenging 20-minute suite which Orr completed around his 85th birthday.
Roy Howat has over many years championed the compositions of Australian composer Wendy Hiscocks, with whom he has widely performed piano duo concerts, concertos and recordings.