Sunday, 4 April 2010

Marian Arkwright, Bluebell Kean, Margaret Meredith and Ethel Barns: Chamber Works

I found this article in The Music Student. Four ladies whose music I would love to be able to unearth.
Marian Arkwright, a musician of extensive orchestral experience both as composer and executant, and one of the few women who have had the patience to sit for the degree of Mus.Doc., has written for various rather uncommon com­binations of instruments. She has composed a quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon; a trio for piano, oboe and horn; and, another for pianoforte, oboe and viola; a Scherzo and Variations for piano, clarinet and bassoon, and some short pieces, called Rêveries, for piano, oboe and viola. These, perhaps it is needless to say, are all in MSS., but it is pleasing to round off the list with some published works, viz., three volumes of violin and piano duets (Cary, Newbury), and two Concert Pieces for viola and piano (Breitkopf).

Another woman who has written for a combi­nation including wind, is Margaret Meredith; her quintet is for piano, violin,' cello, flute and clarinet.
A quintet for the usual allotment of strings and piano, and of more than usual merit, is that by Bluebell Klean. This work has already been heard several times in London, and is both vigorous and agreeable. The first movement opens in virile manner, and its themes are handled with great freedom of style. The second movement, Air Varié, is slightly ‘ordi­nary’ in its conception, but the extremely vivacious Scherzo is a brilliant movement, very well laid out for all the instruments. The Finale, though of very good ‘finalé’ character at its start, suffers a little from diffuseness, .and from disconnectedness in its very relationships; but the whole quintet is spontaneous, thoroughly musical, .and, again to use that unsatisfactory word, most "effective."
Ethel Barns' Sonatas for violin and piano­forte, and her Phantasy Trio for two violins and pianoforte, have a great facility of expression, and are written with remarkable command of both instruments. These being in print can more readily be inspected than most of the works mentioned.

Originally published in The Music Student Chamber music supplement July 1914 pp.97-8 [with minor edits]

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