The English pianist, Raymond Clarke, was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he held exhibitions for both academic work and musical performane, and he obtained his MA degree. After graduating, he studied piano for two years at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester as a postgraduate with the Polish pianist Ryszard Bakst (a pupil of Heinrich Neuhaus, Director of the Moscow Conservatoire). Clarke was awarded there the first Peter Donohoe Prize.
Raymond Clarke made his London South Bank Centre debut in March 1988, a recital described by Music and Musicians as ‘truly a historic performance', featured Ronald Stevenson's eighty-minute Passacaglia on DSCH after the interval. The Times commented: "... just as overwhelming was Clarke's magisterial performance ... a confidence and energy that simply left one in dazed admiration." (His studio recording of the work is now available on CD.)
Since then Raymond Clarke has been an active recitalist, and has appeared as piano soloist in over forty works with orchestra, ranging from Mozart’s concerti to Scriabin’s Prometheus and Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie. Earlier in his career he appeared with such repertoire as the three sonatas by Pierre Boulez, the four sonatas by Michael Tippett, the Preludes and Fugues of Dmitri Shostakovich and Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus. Despite his advocacy of 20th-century scores, he does not regard himself as a specialist in this field, and this area of the repertoire is not representative of his concert programming. His recitals have also featured all of the Mozart and Schubert sonatas. London engagements have included a five-recital L.v. Beethoven series (concluding with the Hammerklavier Sonata), a complete Prokofiev sonata cycle at St John's Smith Square, and the first performance of Simpson's Piano Concerto in over 25 years.
Raymond Clarke has premiered works written especially for him by composers such as Alun Hoddinott (Tenth Sonata, 1989), Matthew Taylor (Sinfonia Concertante, 1990) and John Pickard (Sonata, 1987). After giving the first performance of Andrzej Panufnik's Concerto in its 1986 revision, Michael Kennedy described him in The Daily Telegraph as "an astonishing virtuoso of the contemporary keyboard ... destined to be a major champion of twentieth-century music." He also broadcasts as a soloist for BBC Radio 3. His radio broadcasts have featured repertoire ranging from L.v. Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32 in C Minor Op. 111 to Robert Simpson’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Two of his commercial CD’s have been chosen by Gramophone magazine’s annual ‘Critics’ Choice’ retrospective as being among the best releases on any label.
Raymond teaches piano four days a week at the Music Departments of Bristol University and Cardiff University, and in order to focus on his students’ work there he does not accept any private pupils. He is also editor of The New Shostakovich, a full-length study of the composer D Shostakovich published by Pimlico with a foreword by Vladimir Ashkenazy. His recital programme for the 2009-2010 concert season is as follows: Tchaikovsky: a selection of pieces from The Seasons, Op. 37a; Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B flat, Op. 84; Sergei Rachmaninov: Nine Études-Tableaux, Op. 39 (complete); Balakirev: Islamey. In his spare time he is an enthusiastic CD collector with a library of thousands of discs.