Thursday 30 April 2020

Continental Britons: Hans Gál (1890-1987)

Hans Gál is an honorary Scottish composer, pianist, teacher and writer. Despite being born in Austria he spent more than thirty years as a lecturer at Edinburgh University.
Gál was born in town of Brunn am Gebirge, now a suburb of Vienna, on 5 Aug. 1890. After early piano lessons with Richard Robert and music history with Guido Adler at Vienna University, Gál studied composition with the Romanian musicologist, composer, conductor and teacher between 1909 and 1911. After the military service in the German Army during the First World War, he lectured in music theory at the University of Vienna. Gál remained in this post until 1929 when was appointed Director of the Mainz Musikhochschule. When the Nazis took over Mainz in 1933, he was expelled from this position, because he was Jewish. There follows five years working as a conductor of the Vienna Concert Orchestra and the Bach Society in Vienna. After the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany, 1938) Gál fled to London en-route to the United States. He never crossed the Atlantic. He and his family were invited to Edinburgh by Donald Tovey, then Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh University.  In 1945 Gál was appointed a university lecturer in Musical Education at that institution.  He became a central figure in the city’s musical life and was a highly respected teacher. Gál was a major player in the establishment and running of the Edinburgh Festival, where he had considerable influence on the choice of repertoire. During this period, he continued to compose a considerable amount of music in many genres. Gál also wrote several books about eminent composers, including studies of Johannes Brahms (1964), Franz Schubert (1974) and Richard Wagner (1976). The composer’s diary of his time in wartime ‘alien’ internment camps at Huyton near Liverpool and on the Isle of Man was posthumously published in 2014 by Toccata Press.
Hans Gál died in Edinburgh on 3 October 1987.

The catalogue of music is considerable: there are 110 published works. Hans Gál wrote five operas, four symphonies, concertos for violin and piano as well as many works for chamber ensemble. There are also several vocal and choral works and many piano solos.  Stylistically, Gál’s musical style was largely conservative, Brahms being a key reference, but in some of his music, the influence of Mahler can be heard. Grove’s Dictionary describes his style as ‘[uniting] many elements: the clarity, playful humour and formal mastery of early Classicism; the chromatic harmony and extended tonality of early 20th-century, pre-serial music; a Schubertian love of melody; the lyricism and emotional restraint of Brahms and the contrapuntal textures that remained fundamental to his style.’

If you can only hear one work by Hans Gál
Hans Gál’s Piano Concerto in C major was composed in 1948 and received its premiere in the following year with the soloist Otto Schmidtgen and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by one of the composer’s champions, Rudolf Schwarz.
There is no doubt that this is a sumptuous romantic work. There is nothing of the prevailing serialism and incipient modernism of the late 1940s.  The Concerto opens with an ‘Allegro energico ma non troppo’ which is by turn lyrical, genial and optimistic. Gal has balanced sheer virtuosity with a chamber music clarity. The scoring is pellucid in every sense of the word.  The ‘adagio’ is quite simply gorgeous, mirroring an almost perfect sense of resignation and peace. There is a big tune here that is worthy of Rachmaninov. Things come to a sparking conclusion with the playful and capricious finale, an ‘allegretto vivace.’ This music balances humor with a gentle poignancy. The liner notes explain that this movement is ‘replete with spiky harmonic false relations and witty touches. Again, and again, Gál raises the virtuosic stakes, and in the work’s final pages, the music keeps ramping up the speed and complexity, reaching a thrilling ending, striking both for its audacity and humour.’

Gal’s Piano Concerto was given its world premiere recording in 2016 with the Royal Northern Sinfonia conducted by Kenneth Woods. The piano soloist was Sarah Beth Briggs. The CD coupling was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.22 in E flat (K.482). It was released on AVIE 2358.
A live broadcast the Piano Concerto dating from 2015 has been uploaded to YouTube. Here the soloist is Hartmut Hudezeck with the Philharmonisches Orchester Altenburg conducted by Gera Laurent Wagner/ (Accessed 7 March 2020)

Monday 27 April 2020

Franz Reizenstein (1911-1968): Piano Music on Lyrita

Franz Reizenstein is an honorary English composer – and perhaps one of that large band of unjustly neglected masters. Many years ago, I did a little straw poll amongst a few of my musical friends. None of them had heard his name – never mind any of his music. Yet, I am prepared to stick my head above the parapet and state that the Piano Sonata in B is one of the finest essays of this form in the literature.  The work was composed in 1944 and was dedicated to William Walton.  It is a considerable piece that lasts for nearly half an hour and explores a wide range of emotions and ‘imagination.’  Contemporary reviewers were a little mixed in their reviews. On the one hand, there was a recognition of the work’s undoubted inspiration and ‘more-than-competence’ in the technical layout of the music. Yet, there was a direct criticism of the composer’s use of ‘unassimilated styles’ throughout this three-movement work. It is easy to find references or nods to a range of composers – Hindemith for one and, perhaps, Alan Rawsthorne. Interestingly, Reizenstein studied with Vaughan Williams’s but there appears to be virtually no influence from that direction.

Listening to this work some 75 years after its publication provides a fine opportunity to put to one side any suggestion of cribbing, lack of originality or confusion of styles. Surely this work must be regarded as the masterpiece that it surely is – from the technical, as well as the aesthetic, point of view. But I doubt that it will ever become popular in the recitals: I guess the reason why, is that it more of a cerebral work than one of sheer virtuosic display. However, there is nothing in this work that should deter the listener: it is written in a language that is both appealing and satisfying.
The Legend is a good introduction to Franz Reizenstein’s music. It presents a relatively straightforward ‘cantabile melody’ that is subjected to several interesting metamorphoses. There is a darker and more intense middle section, before the main tune is reprised and the original mood is restored.  The Scherzo Fantastique is a long piece and makes considerable demands on the soloist. It would be easy to suggest that Chopin was the model here – both for the construction of the work and the pianistic figurations. Yet this piece was written in 1950 and has several features that were more prevalent to that time than Chopin’s. Without the score I cannot decide if there is a ‘series’ present in this piece: certainly, the melodic structure sounds as if there is an emphasis on atonality rather than a defined key.
The last two pieces on this conspectus of Reizenstein’s music show various aspects of the composer’s craft. The programme notes state that the Impromptu is ‘without technical difficulties’ – yet the listener will be impressed by the variety of moods and pianism that are the hallmark of this lovely piece. Just now and again, I was reminded of John Ireland in this number, however I am sure there is no conscious reference.  The final work on this LP is the Scherzo in A. This is full of life, excitement and exhilaration – exactly as a scherzo should be. It is well written and has an abundance of invention: musical ideas seem to tumble over each other as the work progresses. This Scherzo would make a fine recital piece, if only pianists would be brave enough to explore this repertoire in the concert hall.

The original vinyl album was released in 1960 with the composer playing the piano. The music having been recorded two years previously. Eric Wetherell provided the erudite sleeve notes. In 2008 this album was remastered by Lyrita for compact disc and issued on REAM 2105. The repertoire was identical, but the added value was the coupling with the early LP of piano music composed and played by York Bowen (RCS 17).
Since writing this review, Franz Reizenstein has been served by several CDs celebrating his piano music. Most significant is the three-volume set of the virtually all the composer’s piano music recorded by Martin Jones on Lyrita SRCD 2342 and the same pianist’s edition of Reizenstein’s Piano Music for Children SRCD 347. Philip Martin issued a fine selection of Reizenstein’s music on Continuum (Continuum CCD1007): this is now only available on download. I note that Kolja Lessing released an album (EDA Edition Abseits EDA20) including the violin and viola sonatas as well as the Sonata No.1 for piano. As a soloist playing both violin and piano, he ‘double-tracked’ the two-former works. I have not heard this disc.
Yet in this present LP/CD it is surely enough to have recordings made by the Franz Reizenstein himself - and playing it with such technical skill, aplomb and panache!  

Track Listing:
Franz REIZENSTEIN (1911-1968)
Piano Sonata in B Op. 19 (1944)
Legend Op. 24 (1949)
Scherzo Fantastique Op. 26 (1950)
Impromptu Op. 14 (1939)
Scherzo in A Op. 21 (1945)
Franz Reizenstein (piano)
rec. mono, May 1960 (Bowen); October 1958 (Reizenstein). ADD

LYRITA RCS 19 (Reissued on REAM 2105, 2008)

Friday 24 April 2020

It’s not British, but…George Antheil’s Orchestral Music on CPO

A few words about the composer will put this CD into context. George Antheil was born on 8 July 1900 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was of Polish descent. He studied with Ernest Bloch at the Philadelphia Conservatory, before embarking on a career as a concert pianist. Antheil composed several ‘modernist’ works for performance at his recitals. Three of the most outré were the Airplane Sonata, the Sonata Sauvage and Mechanisms. His most outrageous work was Le Ballet Mechanique featuring player-pianos, sirens, airplane propellers and electric bells.
This music was avant-garde and cutting edge: it often bemused audiences.
Whilst in Europe, Antheil moved in the rarefied circles of the arts world. He numbered James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Ernest Hemingway as friends.
I guess that few people will have explored the entirety of his massive catalogue which includes more than 300 works. The core of his catalogue are the six numbered symphonies, two piano concertos, many chamber works and much music for solo piano. In his later years he began to compose music for the films including The Pride and the Passion starring Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren. 
The clue to understanding Antheil’s music is the simple rule of thumb that as he aged his style became more ‘conservative’ and ‘tonal’ in sound. By the mid-1930s his work was progressing towards neo-romanticism and neo-classicism. Three of the four works in this CD fall into this latter category. The early The Golden Bird is more ‘avant-garde.’

I enjoyed every bar of the Serenade No.1 for string orchestra which was composed in 1948. It was completed whilst Antheil was working on his Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. The opening movement is a breezy and bouncy little ‘allegro’ written in ‘sonata’ form, without too much contrast between the first and second subjects. The heartfelt ‘andante molto’ uses a long-breathed melody, supported by occasional pizzicato figures alluding to the first movement. There are several short ‘cadenzas’ for cello and violin solos, with orchestral tremolandos adding to the reflective, nocturnal quality of this music. It is the longest of the three movements. The finale, a ‘vivo’, has all the markings of a hootenanny. Not quite as folksy as it could have been, however some reviewers have suggested that it is Shostakovich or Prokofiev at the Barn Dance. I think it is simply George Antheil at his most approachable.
This Serenade was dedicated to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the Chicago-born socialite, pianist and strong supporter of the arts.

The Serenade No.2 for chamber orchestra (it is wrongly billed on the CD cover track listing as being for string orchestra) includes wind section, brass, pianist and percussionist. It is hard to imagine that it was composed only a year after No.1. This is a darker, more profound score that sometimes seems to be morphing into a film score. The opening movement presents a well-constructed movement in sonata form, beginning with a nocturnal introduction. The slow movement could have been taken from a contemporary cowboy film and is none the worse for that. The finale is a mass of sound with a strong swing and a lovely big tune. During the ‘quite fast’ movements, the pianist in the band makes a virtuosic contribution as well as including a strong performance from the percussionist. 
The two Serenades are chalk and cheese. They major on different emotions and ‘world views.’ Both are essential elements of Antheil’s late style. Despite being called serenades, these two works are long and complex enough to have been labelled ‘symphonies’ or ‘sinfoniettas’.

The short piece of Chinoiserie The Golden Bird (1919) lasts for a mere four minutes. Yet it is a wonderfully entertaining work of musical impressionism. It was originally written for piano solo and later transcribed by the composer for orchestra. It was apparently influenced by the Romanian sculptor, painted and photographer Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957). Antheil initially called the work Chinese Magician. Listening to this piece suggests that this is probably a more appropriate title. The work ticks all musical clichés for an oriental sorcerer including wooden blocks and magical glissandi. On the other hand, birdsong also makes an appearance...It may be best to see this as a miniature tone poem with an unwritten plot: an American Sorcerer’s Apprentice perhaps? Despite being ‘modern’ in sound it deserves a place in the standard orchestral repertoire, if for no other reason than its perfectly contrived orchestration.  

The longest work on this CD is the ballet Dreams. This is a potpourri of brief snatches of marches, waltzes, polkas and can-cans. A reviewer (Paul A. Snook, Fanfare) of this work has described it as ‘authentic Americana with a Parisian accent’: this is a good call. The ballet was written in 1934 for George Balanchine. Apparently, a score had originally been provided by French composer Darius Milhaud, then titled Les Songes. New music was demanded for the American stage and Antheil obliged.  The ballet is an interpretation of a surrealist poem by the French author André Derain: it is about a Dancer and a Rat-Acrobat who haunts her dreams. The score is a delight. Clearly, Antheil has had fun here. The musical ‘plot’ would appear to be about balancing inconsistent musical formulas such as waltz/march and folksong/romantic ‘film’ type music.  The entire piece is amusing and entertaining from start to finish. Once again, the listener will revel in Antheil’s clever and imaginative scoring.

Like many CPO recordings, the liner notes are prolix. I accept that they present vast amounts of information, but to be quite honest, the size of the font makes it difficult and tiring to read. I do not understand why downloads of CPO inserts and artwork are not readily available. I have consulted other sources whilst preparing my review.

The performance of these four works is superlative. The Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen conducted by Fawzi Haimor bring panache, enthusiasm, colour and sometimes a welcome sense of humour to this great music. The recording is ideal too.
This is part of an ongoing series of George Antheil’s music released by CPO. Let’s hope that there will be several more releases soon. There is certainly much in Antheil’s ‘back’ catalogue to have a go at.

Track Listing:
George ANTHEIL (1900-59)
Serenade No.1 for string orchestra (1948)
Serenade No.2 for chamber orchestra (1949)
The Golden Bird (1919)
Dreams (1934)
Württembergische Philharmonie/Fawzi Haimor
Rec. 27 September 2017; 2-3 July 2018 Studio of Württembergischen Philharmonie Reutlingen.
CPO 555 196-2
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Continental Britons: Franz-Theodor Reizenstein (1911-1968)

Enthusiasts of Gerard Hoffnung will have come across the music of Franz-Theodor Reizenstein. The unbelievably hilarious Concerto popolare (1956), where orchestra and soloist have not previously agreed on which particular ‘pot-boiler’ of a concerto is to be played. And then there is a gentle teasing of Britten with Let’s Fake an Opera which showcases the ‘Toreador’s Song’ from Carmen, the opening of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, bits of Lohengrin and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

Franz-Theodor Reizenstein was born in Nuremberg on 7th June 1911. During the 1930s he studied piano with Leonid Kreutzer and composition with Paul Hindemith.  In 1934 Reizenstein emigrated to Great Britain. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music with Ralph Vaughan Williams and had private tuition with the pianist Solomon. At this time, he acted as pianist for the violinist Carl Flesch in London.  In 1939 he was interned on the Isle of Man. After his release he worked as a clerk on the railways for the duration of the war.
Reizenstein was active as a pianist both in the recital room and in the BBC studios. For the final ten years of his life he was professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music (1958-68) and latterly at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music). Franz-Theodor Reizenstein died in London on 15th October 1968.

The composer’s catalogue of music is not large but includes a considerable corpus of chamber music and piano works.  Larger scale compositions feature a radio opera Anna Kraus, op.30 (1952), the oratorio Genesis, op. 35, as well as two concertos for piano and two for violin and one for cello. His most popular work is the Variations on ‘The Lambeth Walk’ (c.1958), which displays the composer’s talent for pastiche as well as his ‘Anglified’ sense of humour.  Reizenstein was not a serial composer, neither did he choose to follow the path of the leading avant-gardists of his age. He was a modernist in so far as he used several compositional devices typical of the period, but never eschewed a traditional feel for form and tonality.

Conventionally, Reizenstein’s creative output has been analysed into three periods. Firstly, from the time of his exile until the end of the Second World War his music exhibits an energetic vitality, makes use of contrapuntal devices and sometimes speaks with an eloquent lyricism. The second period is the mature composer. Here his music is more eloquent and expressive: Bartok and Hindemith are his exemplars. This ‘middle’ period produced his two masterpieces – the Second Piano Concerto, op.37 (1959), and the Piano Quintet, op.23 (1948). The final period, overlapping the second, witnesses the composer indulging in a more romantic style. This was when Reizenstein developed an interest in writing film music as well has completing his works for Hoffnung.

If you can only hear one work by Franz-Theodor Reizenstein
The Piano Sonata No.1 in B major, op.19, was composed in 1944 and is dedicated to William Walton. At the time of its première, critics regarded the work as displaying ‘unassimilated styles.’ It was possible to discern the influence of Paul Hindemith, Alan Rawsthorne and Walton himself.  Looking back on this work some 75 years after its composition, the listener finds Reizenstein has created a masterpiece: there is certainly no cribbing or lack of originality.  He was not attempting to be ‘modernistic’ in his writing: there is nothing to deter even the most cautious listener, although Reizenstein does make use of some acerbic harmonies and adventurous rhythms. The musical style is neo-romantic. The range of emotion in this 26-minute sonata is considerable, and it is probably this diversity that led to the contemporary criticism.
The listener will hear a tempestuous opening movement that explores a wide range of technical devices. The second movement is more lyrical and is pensive in mood. The finale is a rondo that displays a surprisingly memorable theme and some fine fugato passages, before a dynamic coda brings this powerful sonata to a conclusion.

A splendid performance of this Piano Sonata is available on Lyrita (SRCD 2342) played by Martin Jones.  This has been uploaded to YouTube:  1st movement; 2nd movement; 3rd movement.
With thanks to the English Music Festival, where much of this note was first published in their house journal Spirited (Winter 2016/2017)

Saturday 18 April 2020

James Whitbourn: Choral Music on Divine Art

The major work on this CD is James Whitbourn's The Seven Heavens which was composed and revised between 2014 and 2016. The basic concept of this piece is ‘a musical portrait of C. S. Lewis portrayed in the imagery of the mediaeval planets.’ Few readers of these pages will be unaware of the important contribution of Lewis to theology, medieval literature and children’s books. Most of us have read at least some of the Narnia Chronicles. Others will have been helped by his practical and compassionate ‘apologetic’ approach to the intricacies of theological matters.

Full details of the work’s progress are given in the liner notes. This includes an introductory text to each movement written by the C.S. Lewis scholar Dr Michael Ward. This places Lewis’s life into chronological episodes each of which relates to the attributes associated with one of the medieval planets (The Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and the Sun), – or the ‘Seven Heavens’. The sung texts are derived largely from the Orphic Hymns (The Hymns of Orpheus), translated into English by Thomas Taylor (1792). Also featured are extracts from William Shakespeare, Joseph Addison, the Psalmist, Thomas Lodge, St John, Percy Bysshe Shelley and C. S. Lewis himself.
Musically, this is an eclectic score, that sounds like a synthesis of everything I have ever heard from the western choral tradition - old and new. That is no bad thing. It makes for an approachable work that is enjoyable and satisfying from first note to the last. There is much beauty in these pages. The listener will be inspired and moved.
The Seven Heavens was originally written for a massive orchestra with the organ of the Ulster Hall in Belfast, where the work was premiered during the 2014/15 season as part of the 140th anniversary of the Belfast Philharmonic Choir. A reduction for choir and chamber orchestra was subsequently made two years later. It is this version that is heard on this disc.
I wonder if Dr Ward’s texts could have been spoken before each section. There certainly seems to be a little extra room on this CD.

I found ‘Ada’ a little insipid. The choir is accompanied by violin and harp: I wonder if this was necessary. The piece is a tribute to Lord Byron’s only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace with the text taken from Byron’s long poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. I guess that few people read these long narrative poems today, however this extract is both tender and melancholy. The music was written in 2015 in response to a request from one of Ada’s descendants. Unsurprisingly, Whitbourn has used the notes A-D-A as a major constructive motif in this piece.

‘Video caelos apertos’ was specially commissioned to mark a visit from the Medina High School, Ohio to St Stephen’s House, Oxford in 2014.  The title reflects St Stephen’s words as quoted in the Acts of the Apostles, shortly before his martyrdom: ‘I see the heavens opened’.  The anthem begins with a ‘plainchant’ melody, before expanding into music reflecting a text from Revelation: ‘You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power’. The liner notes state that the composer has used ‘mensural devices beloved of medieval composers.’ In this context, I am not sure what is meant. I guess the definition implies that the ‘symbols’ give the exact value of the notes and the rests as opposed to plainsong which has no measurable pulse. But without seeing the score…

I am not sure about the eclectic, if not eccentric, nature of ‘The Voices Stilled.’ Ostensibly a setting of the ‘Agnus Dei’, the music incorporates the viola which at one point echoes the ‘Last Post’. I guess it was appropriate for its original inception as a memorial piece for the commencement of the Great War.  The choral music is ravishing, but the ‘band’ is an intrusion.

‘Eternal Rest’ was originally an orchestral number written for broadcast during Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002.  Fifteen years later Whitbourn recomposed the work for choir and organ. It sets the words ‘Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And light perpetual shine upon them.’ It is a beautiful setting that is, for me, the highlight of this CD. A perfect fusion of text, voices and organ. It is a work that is fully in the tradition of Anglican Church Music.

‘Gratias agimus tibi’ is as setting of the college grace of St Stephen’s College Oxford. This is now sung at all college high days and holy days. Scored for choir without accompaniment, it is an effective and inspiring little piece. The timeless nature of this setting reflects both the medieval (Gothic) revival structure of the college (1876) and a more contemporary aesthetic.

The two final pieces are effectively a setting of the Anglican Mag and Nunc Dim. To highlight the Jewish heritage of the text, Whitbourn has introduced some sinuous melodies played on the viola: I am not convinced that this works. The organ part, on the other hand, is demanding and totally effective.

The liner notes give a detailed account of each work, including texts and translations. There are the usual biographies of the composer and performers. Further details of James Whitbourn can be found in his excellent website.
I was unable to find who played the violin, the viola or the organ. The performances by Cor Cantiamo is superb in every way.

Track Listing:
James WHITBOURN (b.1963)
The Seven Heavens (2014/2016) chamber version
Ada (2015)
Video caelos apertos (2014)
The Voices Stilled (2013)
Eternal Rest (2002/2017)
Gratias agimus tibi (2015)
Canticle of Mary (2011)
Canticle of Simeon (2011)
Cor Cantiamo/Eric A. Johnson
Rec. Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, Northern Illinois University, 26-29 May 2017
DIVINE ART dda 25192
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Continental Britons: Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960)

Over the next few weeks, I want to look at three of four composers who are defined as Continental Britons.  This will feature Mátyás Seiber, Franz Reizenstein and Hans Gál. Notes on a few others may follow. I will include details of ‘If you can only hear one work…’ which is simply a personal choice.
There than seventy composers and musicians came to Britain in the years prior to the outbreak of the Second World War to escape Nazi persecution. Some were to remain here: others such as Ernst Toch were to pass quickly onward to the United States. Unfortunately, it was not always a happy story. Several musicians who made their way to these shores were subsequently interned by the British government in one or other of the camps created for this purpose. It would be wrong to suggest that these were exceptionally harsh compared to similar camps in Germany: however, it did often deny the composers (and others) their ability to ‘make music,’ their access to books and it clearly limited their freedom of movement.

Where these composers are recalled today, there is a tendency to ascribe to them the musical characteristics of being proto-Hindemith or members of Schoenberg’s serial school. Whilst this is partially true, it is not the whole story. The composers were all individuals who adopted one theoretical system or another or none to suit their personal requirements. The British musical environment influenced these composers as much as they themselves influenced subsequent developments in post-war music.

Many listeners will have heard the music of Mátyás Seiber without realising it. Several examples spring to mind: firstly, film scores such as those of A Town Like Alice (1956), starring Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna, and the cartoon version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1954); and secondly, the hit song By the Fountains of Rome which reached Number 27 in the 1956 pop charts (the singer was David Hughes). Other versions of this song were made by Manuel and the Music of the Mountains and Victor Silvester.  There cannot be many pupils of Kodály who have achieved this honour.  Some of Seiber’s music echoes jazz. The collaboration between the composer and Johnny Dankworth to produce the stunning Improvisations for Jazz Band and Orchestra (1959) is a splendid example that should be better known.  The Jazzolette No.2 (1932) is another good instance, although this is more modernist music than jazz pastiche.

Yet scratch a little deeper and a very different composer emerges. Jazz was an interest, but not necessarily a preoccupation. Seiber was adept at using the twelve-tone method (serialism,) in a very personal manner, as well as more traditional sounds as evinced in his film scores. Other important influences were Bartok and folksong. Key achievements are Seiber’s opera, Eva spielt mit Puppen (1934), the concerted works for flute, violin, viola and cello and the Bessardo Suite no.2 for strings (1942). Major choral pieces include what may be regarded as his masterpiece, Ulysses, a cantata for tenor solo, chorus and orchestra to words from the iconic novel by James Joyce (1947). It is unfortunate that in the early 21st century he is best recalled his Three Hungarian Folk Songs which are three slight, but finely crafted, part-songs.

Mátyás Seiber was born in Budapest on 4th May 1905. He studied cello with Adolf Shiffer and composition with Zoltan Kodály at the Budapest Academy between 1919 and 1924.  In 1928 Seiber taught the Jazz Class at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main.  His other activities included conducting several of the city’s theatre orchestras and playing cello with the Lenzewski Quartet. His experience was not limited to composing music: he played in a ship’s orchestra and visited Russia as a music critic.

Due to Hitler’s intolerance of jazz and Jews, Seiber was dismissed from his teaching post. He settled in London during 1935. Here he worked in Schott’s music-publishing house, taught at Morley College and founded the Dorian Singers.  In 1943 he and fellow émigré composer Francis Chagrin founded the Society for the Promotion of New Music. In the post-war years he devoted himself to conducting, teaching and composing. Mátyás Seiber died in a car crash in the Kruger National Park, Johannesburg, on 24th September 1960.  
Mátyás Seiber’s pupils included Don Banks, Peter Racine Fricker, Anthony Gilbert, Anthony Milner and Hugh Wood.

If you can only hear one work by Mátyás Seiber…
Seiber wrote in a variety of styles, so no one piece is representative, yet the Elegy for viola and orchestra (1951-3) is a work that encompasses the composer’s more serious side without making excessive demands on the listener: it makes use of relatively gentle dissonances. This work is not a serial composition, neither does jazz, folksong or ‘film’ music play any part in the work’s development.

The Donaueschingen Festival in Germany commissioned the Elegy; it was completed in 1953. The structure of the work is straightforward, but Seiber has managed to create a variety of moods in what is a typically inward-looking work. Hugh Wood has noted the Elegy’s considerable diversity, including fanfares of muted trumpets and richly contrived string chords in what is essentially a rhapsodic work.  Dyneley Hussey in the Musical Times (November 1960) has described the Elegy as exhibiting ‘gentle, lyrical tenderness… [which was the] very embodiment of the gentleness and charm that radiated from [Seiber’s] personality.’

The Elegy for viola and orchestra has been released on Lyrita (SRCD348) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer. The violist is Cecil Aronowitz. Unfortunately, this work has not been uploaded to YouTube. However, readers with access to the Naxos Music Library through their local libraries will be able to here this great recording.
With thanks to the English Music Festival, where much of this note was first published in their house journal Spirited (Winter 2016/2017)

Sunday 12 April 2020

New Music at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival Part 4 of 4 (Concluded)

The final tranche of 1970 Cheltenham Festival ‘novelties’ begins with John Tavener’s Coplas was originally an anthem written for voices and tape in 1969. However, this piece was later incorporated into the composer’s massive Ultimos Ritos (Last Rites) which was premiered in 1974.
Tavener explained that Coplas is based on the theology of the Spanish mystic, St John of the Cross. The idea that inspired the composer was ‘the more I live the more I must die.’ This explains, says Tavener, ‘the deliberately static nature of Coplas.’ He insists that ‘in once sense Coplas is a prolonged decoration of the 'et sepultus est' cadence from the ‘Crucifixus’ in Bach's Mass in B minor…’ The present piece seems to present a gradual merger of John Tavener’s music with that of Bach heard on tape. It is beautiful, timeless work that seems to defy classification.
In 1971 The Beatles record label, Apple, released an album (SAPCOR-20) of Tavener’s music, including A Celtic Requiem, Nomine Jesu and Coplas. The London Sinfonietta Chorus and Orchestra were conducted by David Atherton. It has been subsequently released on CD. Coplas has been uploaded to YouTube.  Unbelievably, I was unable to locate a recording of Ultimos Ritos.

I am always surprised that Michael Tippett’s The Shires Suite has not gained traction with the composer’s fanbase. To my knowledge there is no complete recording of the piece in the current CD catalogues. A learned discussion about the genesis, performance and reception of work is given by John Whitmore on MusicWeb International . I will extract only the reference to the Cheltenham performance from his essay.
The premiere of the complete Shires Suite written for the Leicestershire Schools Orchestra, took place at the Town Hall on 8 July. Works featured that day included the vibrant Piano Concerto conducted by a ‘still athletic octogenarian’, Arthur Bliss with the soloist Frank Wibaut. Michael Tippett naturally conducted the premiere of his work, as well as Charles Ives’ ‘riotous’ choral and orchestral version of the Circus Band and ‘a rather scrappy’ Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. (Birmingham Daily Post 10 July 1970).  The Shires Suite was well received by the audience. Despite the considerable difficulties, the work was beautifully performed by choir and orchestra with the music reflecting ‘a further consolidation of Tippett’s post-Priam clarity of texture with a rediscovered lyricism which, allied to his special feeling for the setting of words, transforms what might have been an occasional piece into a significant new work.’ A recording of The Shires Suite 1970 Cheltenham premiere has been uploaded to YouTube

A studio album of Michael Tippett’s The Shires Suite was released on Unicorn Records (UNS 267) in 1981. The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra and the Leicestershire Chorale were conducted by Peter Fletcher. Included on this LP was Douglas Young’s Virages-Region 1 with the cello solo played by Rohan de Saram and conducted by the composer. This album has not been released on CD. However, both the Tippett and the Young have been uploaded to YouTube.

Henry Weinberg hails from Philadelphia in the United States. Born in 1931, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Princetown. His teachers included Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt. Several other composers influenced his music, including Luigi Dallapiccola, Elliott Carter, George Perle, Ralph Shapey and Edgard Varèse. The composer died in 2018.
Weinberg’s String Quartet No. 2 was written between 1960 and 1964 whilst the he was working in New York and Florence. It was premiered in New York in 1964.
The structure of the Quartet depends on abandoning the usual three or four movements and replacing it with 12 short sections. These ‘sections’ are interconnected to each other both ‘backwards and forwards’ in time. It would be a perceptive listener who could relate these elements without (and perhaps even with) the score. The music is characterised by ‘constant changes of tempo [and] elastic rhythmic movements while allowing the sense of continuity to operate subliminally.’   The musical material of this piece is derived from complicated serial procedures that relate rhythm and ‘melody.’ 
Peter J Pirie, (The Musical Times, November 1971) whilst reviewing the score, recognised Weinberg’s Quartet’s ‘contemporary idiom’.  He noted that the work is dedicated to the memory of 'Paul Weinberg, musician and mathematician' and that the score’s facsimile was written ‘in the composer’s spidery handwriting [which] looks a bit like untidy mathematics.’ Pirie felt that ‘for a lot of the time all four instruments scoop for very high notes, of brief duration, and it gives the appearance of being spiky and shrill, but one would have to hear it played. I liked the very imaginative end, though.’ I understand that the conclusion provides a ‘homage’ to J.S. Bach through a novel take on the B-A-C-H motive and the final cadence reveals a C major triad!
To my knowledge there has only been a single recording of Henry Weinberg’s String Quartet No.2. This was released by Columbia Records in 1969 (MS 7284). It was played by the Composers Quartet. Also included on this LP was Leon Kirchner’s remarkable Quartet No.3 for strings and electronic tape. This was performed by the Beaux-Arts Quartet. Both the Kirchner and the Weinberg have been uploaded to YouTube.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Time, Space and Change: Music by Ed Hughes

The opening work on this CD is superb. Cuckmere: A Portrait (2016-18) was originally conceived as a score to accompany a film depicting ‘a year in the life of the River Cuckmere and Haven in Sussex.’ This richly diverse landscape lies in a flood plain (fortunately at present undeveloped) with the river wending its way towards the iconic Seven Sisters and then out into the English Channel. The liner notes note that this area has inspired many artists, including the great Eric Ravilious.
Ed Hughes has explained that this score is all about movement – ‘movement across a landscape, movement within the landscape and movement that is the unstoppable flow of the river, the passage of time and the changing of seasons.’ Into all this activity, a few moments of perfect peace interpose themselves. Cuckmere: A Portrait has eight movements or sections. This represents the four seasons, provides an opening ‘Prelude’ as well as three interludes. The first season majored on is ‘Autumn’ then progressing through winter and spring to high summer.  This music reminds me of the old Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who wisely said that ‘we cannot step in the same river twice.’ (Frag.41). Hughes score reflects the old English meaning of Cuckmere, which is quite simply ‘ever-flowing’. The sound world here is stunning. The music ranges from a gentle minimalism towards piquant dissonances. The scoring is always colourful, innovative and illuminated.  It makes for an ideal impression of a river flowing inexorably towards the sea.
One can only hope that ‘developers’ do not choose to build on this flood plain and destroy what is clearly a magical part of the Kingdom. Fortunately, much of the river’s course is contained in the Seven Sisters Country Park.

Media Vita is a remarkable work. Written early in Hughes’s career, it is like a free fantasia on 16th century composer John Sheppard’s eponymous motet. This has been reworked, expanded and twisted into a piano trio. Once again, the instrumental scoring adds considerable value to this interesting formal [re]creation. The style and mood of the music certainly made me recall that 'In the midst of life we are in death' which is the text that Sheppard used for his masterpiece.

I am not sure how to approach the Sinfonia. According to the liner notes this is a piece of programme music. For example, in the first of six movements we are encouraged to ‘hear the arrows fly and the hatchets land in Agincourt’ and then in the second, ‘Stella Celi Extirpavit/mortis pestem’ (The Star of Heaven has rooted out the deathly plague) the supplicants’ prayers to Our Lady are ‘heard’. To be fair, what Hughes is doing is ‘responding to his deep love of compositional history’ of the period between 1400 and 1600. In a long sentence he has claimed that the Sinfonia was ‘a creative response to English music of this period that would acknowledge my debt to the emotional life of this music, with its soaring lines (like cathedrals), its curious structures, its high culture (for chapels, courts) but with the popular or vernacular also sometimes echoed in the legacy of notated manuscripts, its balance between the sacred and the profane.’ Take a breath. Hughes has once again used ‘pre-existing’ musical compositions to generate his formal and melodic structures but has twisted them so far from their exemplars as to be unrecognisable.
I think the clue to enjoying this work is to dump the ‘programme’ but keep in mind the tension between the ‘sacred and profane.’ It is a remarkably taut score, with many felicitous moments. Often dissonant in sound, there are several lyrical and sometimes even ‘romantic’ passages emerging from, or sinking into, the progress of the work.

The playing on the CD is excellent in all three works. The recording is ideal. Ed Hughes has written illuminating liner notes that give both an outline and a detailed analysis of each work. A good biography of the composer can be found on his Website.

When so much modern ‘classical’ or ‘art’ music seems to be caught in the doldrums of commercialised sub-Einaudi meanderings and insipid harmonies, it is refreshing to come across a composer who writes in a style that is challenging without being off-putting. I cut my teeth on music in the early 1970s, so I was not averse to hearing ‘progressive’ music by the ‘greats’ of that time such as Stockhausen, Peter Maxwell Davies and Pierre Boulez. After a series of ‘isms’ including minimalism, computer music, new simplicity and new complexity, Ed Hughes music comes as a refreshing change. I guess that it is post-modernist and eclectic in the sense that the composer is willing and able to use a wide variety of musical inspirations and palettes. He writes in a trajectory from the earliest English vocal music composers of the 14th century down to the present day, His ability to adapt, recreate and bend this music to his own voice is remarkable.

Track Listing:
Ed HUGHES (b.1968)
Cuckmere: A Portrait (2016-18)
Media Vita (1991)
Sinfonia (2018)
Orchestra of Sound and Light/Ed Hughes (Cuckmere); New Music Players Piano Trio: Susanne Stanzeleit (violin); Joe Giddey (cello); Richard Casey (piano) (Media Vita); New Music Players/Nicholas Smith (Sinfonia)
Rec. Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, University of Sussex, 5 May 2018 (Live performance) (Cuckmere: A Portrait); The Warehouse, Theed Street, London, 28 September 2018 (Media Vita, Sinfonia)
MÉTIER msv 28597
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published. 

Monday 6 April 2020

New Music at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival Part 3 of 4

Howard Riley’s (b.1943) Textures for string quartet has disappeared from the repertoire. I was unable to find many references to this work, except in the context of the 1970 Cheltenham Festival. Riley is a musician who now performs in the avant-garde jazz and experimental music world. However, he did crossover between genres in the late 1960s with the present Textures for string quartet and his Three Fragments for flute and piano which was also performed at Cheltenham.  The Birmingham Post (13 July) noted that Textures was played by the Welsh String Quartet ‘and did what it set out to do with commendable brevity and a corresponding increase in our respect for its achievement.

One of the most impressive works heard at the 1970 Festival was the ‘concert premiere’ of Scottish composer Thea Musgrave’s Night Music. This 18-minute work is presented in a single movement with cascading and sometimes interlocking sections. The composer has written that ‘As so often in dreams, there are quickly changing moods — frightening, eerie, peaceful, romantic, stormy – and in this work highly contrasted musical sections quickly follow on from each other, interchanging and even at times overlapping.’ (Liner Notes NMCD074, 2002). The work involves a degree of ‘controlled freedom’ as well as normal performance disciplines.  A novel aspect of this ‘dreamscape’ is the ‘seating arrangements’ for the two peripatetic horn players. If they are sat close together, the music is lyrical, but when they stand either side of the conductor, the sound is more dramatic and dissonant. There is a third horn player, ‘off stage’ who creates various echo effects. This is a highly charged, atmospheric piece that is both challenging and immediately attention grabbing.  On the other hand, the reviewer in Musical Opinion (September 1970) thinks that the work presents a ‘Dark Night’ which is a ‘dangerous, unquiet country.’  This Festival performance as given by the BBC Welsh Orchestra conducted by Carewe. The same musicians had given the premiere broadcast from Cardiff City Hall on 25 October 1969.
In 1973 Thea Musgrave’s Night Music appeared on an LP of contemporary music released by Argo (ZRG 702). This album included Roger Sessions’ Rhapsody for orchestra and his Symphony No. 8 as well as Wallingford Riegger’s Dichotomy for chamber orchestra. In Musgrave’s piece Barry Tuckwell and Alan Chidell were the horn soloists and the London Sinfonietta was conducted by Frederik Prausnitz.
Two CDs of Musgrave’s Night Music have been subsequently released. In 1987, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nicolas Kraemer issued an album devoted to her music in the now deleted Collins Classics series (15292). Along with Night Music it included the oboe concerto, Helios and orchestral The Seasons. All three Collins’s recordings were subsequently included on the NMCD074 retrospective mentioned above. This album also incorporated Memento Vitae. Night Music has been uploaded to the internet in the NMC version. The 1973 Argo edition has been uploaded to YouTube.

Another superb work heard at the 1970 Festival was ‘serial’ composer Humphrey Searle’s Zodiac Variations for small orchestra, op.53. The title is a little bit of a misnomer. The listener will hardly be conscious of any huge musical difference between, say ‘Capricorn’ and ‘Cancer’. Searle does not seem to have used any esoteric ideas for the characterisation of the various ‘star signs’: the piece never strives for pictorial realism.’
The theme, which is a short passage of 12 bars is followed by 12 short variations.  Searle has explained that each succeeding variation uses notes from the preceding one, but also adds new material, thus making the entire work ‘cumulative’. The structural organisation is largely serial, but not pedantically so. Zodiac Variations is scored for two oboes, (second doubling for cor anglais), two horns and strings. The work, composed as a festival commission, was dedicated to the Festival Director, John Manduell.
The Variations were premiered at Cheltenham on 7 July 1970 by the Orchestra Nova conducted by Meredith Davies who was deputising at short notice for Lawrence Foster. Gerald Larner, clearly finding no musical correlation with he heavens has gone as far to suggest that ‘a new title may reveal a different work.’ (Musical Times September 1970).  He was not impressed with the ill-prepared and discouraging performance.’
In 2016, Lyrita Records (REAM 1130) issued a CD dedicated to Searle’s music. It featured the Third and Fifth Symphonies, Labyrinth for orchestra and a remastering of the premiere of the Zodiac Variations. Listening to this work today, seems to defy Larner’s negative comments. I find that it is an exhilarating and often quite beautiful work, that sounds to me admirably realised.
To be concluded…

Friday 3 April 2020

Ronald Srevenson Piano Music on Toccata, Volume 4

When CD companies begin a series of albums covering the ‘complete’ works of a composer, I always worry. Over my lifetime I have seen several of these projects started and then suddenly the enthusiasm or the investment dries up. With Christopher Guild’s survey of the complete piano music of Ronald Stevenson we seem to be on solid ground. Volume 1 was released in 2017 and since then three further albums have hit the streets at regular intervals. The pianist has told me that Volume 5 is ‘on the stocks’ and will feature transcriptions of music by Henry Purcell, Bernard van Dieren, Frederick Delius and Bernard Stevens.
In Volume 4, Christopher Guild had included transcriptions of opera and a variety of songs, both ‘popular’ and ‘art’ and a single original work. A paradigm for appreciating Ronald Stevenson’s music is to understand that his style is an amalgam of Scottish inspiration (despite the fact that he was born in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1928), a profound understanding of contemporary Western musical developments as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of indigenous music from around the world. Importantly, Stevenson was equally at home in making transcriptions of other composer’s music as he was in producing original scores. There is no genre or style of music that was beneath him.

The CD opens with an arrangement of some extracts from pianist, composer and briefly Prime Minister of Poland, Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s (1860–1941) only opera Manru. The plot of the work concerns a village girl Ulana and documents her love for the gipsy Manru. Stevenson has created a suite of four pieces. The ‘Introduction and Gipsy March’ reflects on Ulana’s mother’s fear for her daughter as she plans to elope with Manru.  The ‘Gipsy Song’ is taken from a violin solo, where the fiddler Jogu attempts to call Manru back to the nomadic life.  The ‘Lullaby’, sung to Ulana’s child (was Manru the father?) is followed by a Polish national dance, the ‘Cracovienne’. Listen out for the ‘bagpipe’ drones here. Not, apparently to ‘Scottify’ the Polish music, but to generate a mood of rusticity. The added value of this attractive Suite is quite simply hearing music that would have been largely lost if Stevenson had not turned his pianistic interest towards it. I understand that a recording of the opera was made in 2001. There is also a YouTube performance of the complete opera.  

An ‘original’ ‘Song without Words’ follows. I will not spoil the narrative of this work’s genesis, save to say that Martin Anderson, the founder and executive producer of Toccata Records called the work into being in 1987 as a birthday gift to a lady. It is a special little piece that includes the obligatory ‘Happy Birthday’ tune as well as some delicious, slightly dark-hued harmonies.  The whole story is given in the liner notes.

Another charming operatic transcription derives from Gustave Charpentier’s (1860-1956) masterpiece Louise (1900).  Stevenson’s short ‘Romance’ paraphrases the love duet at the beginning of Act III. Here, the lovers sing of their happiness and love for each other in their new pied à terre in Paris. This transcription was dedicated to the composer’s wife, Marjorie.

Every wannabe poet thinks that they can write Haiku by the dozen. The reality is that most will be rubbish and never match up to the great exponents of this literary device developed by Matsuo Bashō and his ‘school’.  Stevenson wrote a song cycle in 1971 setting several haiku in translation. In 2006 he transcribed these songs for solo piano. They were first heard in this arrangement at a Ronald Stevenson Society event on the picturesque Isle of Cumbrae in the Clyde Estuary. This pleasingly textured music makes use of the pentatonic (five note) and heptatonic (seven note) scales. These reflect the traditional number of syllables in a haiku (5-7-5). Each piece is given a typically gnomic title ending with a concluding ‘Epilogue.’ One of the most captivating moments is a short interlude: The Blossoming Cherry (Aubade). The liner notes explain that Stevenson had the texts of the Haikus printed in the score. It is a pity that these poems have not been included in the liner notes.

The main event on this disc are the three published volumes of L’Art Nouveau du chant appliqué au piano composed between 1980 and 1988.  They are modelled on Swiss-born composer-pianist Sigismond Thalberg’s (1812–71), L’Art du chant appliqué au piano written in 1853–63.
The present work is a collection of transcriptions, arrangements, paraphrases and reinventions of a wide range of songs. Most of these were ‘popular’ when Stevenson was a boy and many would have been heard at amateur recitals, pierhead concerts and in church halls. Examples include an idiomatic setting of Frank Bridge’s (1879-1941) ‘Go not Happy Day’ where the elder composer’s swirling piano accompaniment has been retained with the exuberant melody skilfully interposed. It is my favourite number in this set. Ivor Novello’s (1893-1951) once greatly loved songs ‘We’ll gather lilacs’ and ‘Fly Home, Little Heart’ are given the full cocktail pianist treatment. Stephen Foster (1826-64) is a largely forgotten composer. Bing Crosby may have had a major hit with ‘Beautiful Dreamer’, but Foster’s sun has largely set. Even so, Stevenson has imbued magic into this song as well as ‘I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair’ and ‘Come where my love lies dreaming’. Arias by Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864) from Les Huguenots and Sigmund Romberg’s (1887-1951) Maytime are characteristically well wrought. Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s (1875-1912) gorgeous ‘Demande et Résponse’ still gets the occasional outing in CD collections of light music. I have a published piano version made by the composer in my piano stool. It is a truly lovely piece, that would bring a tear the eye. And who now recalls Maud Valérie White’s (1855-1937) ‘So we’ll go no more A Roving’? This was a once hugely popular song whose magic is recaptured by Stevenson’s arrangement.  From start to finish, the three volumes of L’Art Nouveau du chant appliqué au piano are a pleasure and a delight to listen to. One is always conscious of Ronald Stevenson’s consummate skill at realising other composer’s music into his own medium of piano solo. Every one of these twelve numbers is a gem. The three Foster songs are premiere performances. I understand that there are other examples of these transcriptions in the catalogue, including Arnold Bax’s ‘The White Peace’ and ‘My Lagan Love’ by Hamilton Harty…

Christopher Guild has taken all these pieces to his heart. As I noted in my review of Volume 3 of this project, he has a clear understanding of, and sympathy with, Ronald Stevenson’s eclectic musical style. The booklet essay, as always, is helpful, interesting and informative. It is written by the present pianist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest volume in Christopher Guild’s survey or Ronald Stevenson’s piano music. Glancing at the catalogue in Colin Scott-Sutherland’s Symposium (Toccata Press, 2005) on the composer, there are still plenty of piano works to rediscover.

Track Listing:
Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015)
Suite from Paderewski’s Manru (1961): 1. Introduction and Gipsy March [4:22], No.2 Gipsy Song [3:43], No.3 Lullaby [2:56], No.4 Cracovienne [4:07
Song without Words (1988) [2:12]
Nine Haiku (1971, arr. 2006): No. 1 Dedication [1:06], No. 2 The Fly [0:50], No. 3 Gone Away [2:05], No. 4 Nocturne [1:29], No. 5 Master and Pupil [0:40], No. 6 Spring [1:27], Interlude: The Blossoming Cherry (Aubade) [2:12], No. 7 Curfew [1:23], No. 8 Hiroshima [0:43], No. 9 Epilogue [1:58]
Charpentier: Louise – Romance (c.1970) [3:10]
L’Art Nouveau du chant appliqué au piano (1980–88) Volume One: No. 1 Coleridge-Taylor: Elëanore (1980) [3:53], No. 2 White: So We’ll go no more a-roving (1980) [5:52], No. 3 Meyerbeer: Romance: Plus blanche que la plus blanche hermine (Les Huguenots) (1975) [5:42], No. 4 Rachmaninov: In the Silent Night (1982) [3:17]; No. 5 Bridge: Go not, happy day! (1980) [2:00]
Volume Two: No. 1 Novello: Fly Home, Little Heart (?1980) [3:03], No. 2 Novello: We’ll Gather Lilacs (1980) [4:23], No. 3 Coleridge-Taylor: Demande et Réponse (1981) [1:28], No. 4 Romberg: Will you remember? (Maytime) (1988) [1:15]
Volume Three: No. 1 Foster: Jeanie with the light brown hair (1980) [2:44], No. 2 Come where my love lies dreaming (1980) [4:27], No. 3 Beautiful Dreamer (1980) [2:49]
Christopher Guild (piano)
Rec. Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, 17 February 2019 (Suite from Paderewski’s ‘Manru’, Louise – Romance and L’Art Nouveau du chant appliqué au piano) and 24 February 2019 (Song without Words and Nine Haiku)
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published.