Monday, 15 September 2008

Geoffrey Bush: Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano

Sadly and certainly unfairly the composer Geoffrey Bush is not well represented in the CD catalogues: at present he has only some seven or eight works on disc. Of course his two symphonies are recorded on Lyrita and these are certainly impressive major works and deserve to be in the libraries of all English Music enthusiasts. Bush Symphonies

Bush’s reputation is generally (alas) confined to his vocal music- both choral works and solo songs- so any opportunity to hear a chamber or orchestral work is to be welcomed.
The Trio was written in 1953 when the composer was in his early thirties. The work opens with a declamatory flourish and soon gets into an impressive ‘adagio maestoso.’ This is powerful music. However after a short pause, the mood changes to one of a quicksilver scherzo-like ‘vivace.’ Here we find the typical Bush fingerprints of wit, precision, shifting tonalities and syncopated rhythms. Then follows a gorgeous tune. Jeremy Polmear of Oboe Classics, suggests that it nods to Walton and this is appropriate. It is first heard on the oboe before being repeated on the bassoon and developed contrapuntally. But soon the ‘scherzo’ music returns and this leads into ‘big music’ before the movement comes to a mercurial end.
The second movement is noted as ‘poco lento-tempo di vivace.’ This is deep music compared to that which has gone before. Actually I feel it is full of sadness. I was reminded or Finzi in the way that the melody unfolds with an almost Bachian poise and balance. Yet this mood cannot last for ever. Soon the music becomes much more exploratory before repeating the Finzian tune, albeit in a more Spartan guise. A reprise of ‘quicksilver’ music brings the work towards its conclusion. The work ends with a clever little figure from both oboe and bassoon.

Geoffrey Bush’s Trio is available on Oboe Classics ‘Melodic Lines’

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