Friday, 20 November 2009

Ethel Bilsland: Review of her Sernade for string quartet and piano

[There is] a Serenade, for string quartet and piano, by Ethel Bilsland. Here we have the attenuated and ethereal style which would perhaps not have occurred to English writers as a medium without the influence of Debussy-the very opposite of the full-blooded robust or the cloyingly sentimental manners. Perhaps the consecutive fifths occur with an air of knowing that they are naughty, but it would not be fair to suggest that the music is artificial. There is great spontaneity about the very characteristic .air which is announced on the viola below the muted accompaniment of the two violins; and there is an engaging rhythmic freshness about the piu mosso section which brings in the other main material of the movement. It is all very decidedly alive. The strings are handled with considerable knowledge and good feeling for their character, and the piano is employed with skill to throw up and not to cloud the clarity of the other instruments. Altogether, an effective movement, and one which leads us to expect other works of more extended scope from Miss Bilsland.
The Music Student Chamber music supplement July 1914 pp.97-8 [with minor edits]

One can only hope that one day this score will turn up and well will be able to hear a performance of appears to be an impressive work.
There is a small webpage devoted to Ethel Bilsland which has a number of photographs, sound files and sheet music on .pdf files.

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