Monday 29 June 2020

Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie Complete Music for Solo Piano Volume Two

Recently, I reviewed Volume 1 of Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie Complete Music for Solo Piano. I refer the reader to that review for details of the composer’s life and general housekeeping for the CD production. Volume 2 is equally rewarding as a recital and as a product. Once again, I am beholden to the excellent liner notes for much of the information I have presented in this review.

Volume 2 opens with the Rustic Scenes, op.9. It appears that these were written in 1876, although the published edition is dated 1897. No matter, these four Scenes are charming if not essential. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a score of them. As the liner notes suggest they are typical of the kind of character pieces that were popular in the late Victorian era. The titles are poetic rather than descriptive. The inevitable ‘Rustic Dance’ comes first. It seems that composers were obsessed with outwardly unsophisticated country folk in those days. It is a merry little number with just an occasional hint of melancholy. Mackenzie travels north for the ‘Forester’s Song’. This echoes the shielings of Argyll rather than the huts of Sherwood Forest. Here and there a little echo of Scottish music creeps into this happy tune. The undisputed masterwork here is the ‘Curfew Song’. This is heartfelt music that explores deeper waters than the ethos of the Suite implies. Once again, the listener can picture the Highlands. Finally, ‘Harvest Home’. I wonder how many compositions have been give this or a similar title over the years. Mackenzie’s ticks all the boxes with a good balance between riotous and prayerful thanksgiving.

The Five Pieces, op.13 (not op.15 as in the liner notes) were published in 1877. Once again, they would appear to be designed to satisfy the ‘salon music’ market. And there is nothing wrong with that! If only composers had always considered their listeners and performers rather than their egos… Howell notes that these are more technically competent that the earlier Rustic Scenes. I was only able to study the score for the opening ‘Impromptu’ and the ‘Saga’. The former is written in a well-constructed ternary (three part) form that is wistful in mood. The right-hand part is quite delicious in its pensive explorations. This is followed by a bouncy little gigue that has just a hint of the baroque about it. It is a perfect precursor for the most significant piece in this collection, the ‘Saga’. Here, Mackenzie alludes to Celtic sensibilities as well as presenting a ‘bleak Nordic tone that anticipates Sibelius.’ The middle section is way beyond the paygrade of the amateur pianist. Saga has an ascription from Longfellow’s The Saga of King Olaf which sets the tone. A reflective ‘La Coquette’ follows which is in complete contrast. This young lady is only just a little flirtatious, but clearly quite lovely. The concluding ‘Evening in the Fields’ is back to an imagined rustic simplicity. It seems to balance a lively dance with a meditation on the setting of the sun. Perhaps, the weakest of this set of Five Pieces?

Two early works are included which date back to the time when Alexander Mackenzie was studying in Germany. Neither have been published and are played here from the manuscript. The first is a sad and reflective little tone poem, Sehnsucht (Loneliness) whilst the second, Ungarisch. is a fair attempt at writing a Hungarian ‘Czardas’. Howell reminds the listener that the composer’s father died shortly after beginning his studies in Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. Sehnsucht naturally seems to reflect his loss.

Odds and Ends is by and large a good title for Mackenzie’s op.83. It is subtitled ‘Par ci, par là’ (Here and there). They were published during the Great War in 1916. The opening ‘Refrain’ curiously nods towards John Ireland with its ‘obsessive melancholy’ whilst the second, ‘High Spirits’ is wayward, without being reckless. The second ‘book’ opens with ‘Telling a Story’ that pushes its harmonic language into the 20th century, however this tale could be about anything. The final ‘Odds and Ends’ is a ‘Pavane and Musette’. The liner notes suggest Cyril Scott as an exemplar. I am not so sure: I found it a little monotonous.

The final work on this CD is Mackenzie’s ‘most ambitious single piece’ the Fantasia, op.70. It was published in 1909 and dedicated to Philip L Agnew. Agnew was chairman of the Royal Academy of Music as well as being one of the proprietors of the long-running satirical magazine, Punch. Moreover, he had created an annual prize for pianoforte awarded at the RAM. Howell mentions that ‘notable recipients’ included Leo Livens, Michael Head and Clifford Curzon.
An argument could be made that the Fantasia is a ‘one-movement sonata.’ The structure would seem to suggest a sonata. Howell points out the powerful first theme that is both confident and optimistic. This is followed by a much more reticent ‘second subject’ which could be a ‘slow movement.’ Equally, the development section has all the effervescence of a ‘scherzo.’ The inevitable recapitulation of the two main themes may well suggest that it is cyclic. Listening to this music is both rewarding and inspiring. This must rate as one of the Mackenzie’s finest excursions for piano (or any instruments).
The liner notes conclude with an interesting conceit: ‘those in search of the major piano work Elgar never wrote, may well find much of what they are seeking in this free-flowing, eloquently romantic chef-d'oeuvre by Mackenzie.’ It is a sentiment that I could well come to agree with. I note that the Fantasia was completed in the lovely West Riding town of Ilkley.

The final instalment of this survey promises to be equally good in every way. It will feature the Scenes in the Scottish Highlands, op.23 (1880) which has been regarded as Alexander Mackenzie’s ‘Scottish’ Piano Sonata. Equally promising are the early Variations in E minor (c.1861).

Track Listing:
Alexander Campbell MACKENZIE (1847-1935)
Rustic Scenes, op.9 (1876)
Five Pieces, op.13 (1877)
Sehnsucht (1862)
Ungarisch (1862)
Odds and Ends – Par ci, par là, op.83 Books 1 & 2 (1916)
Fantasia, op.70 (1909)
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studios of Griffa & Figli s.r.l., Milan, Italy, 14 February 2017, 21 June 2018.
Sheva Collection SH229 

Friday 26 June 2020

Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie Complete Music for Solo Piano Volume One

This is the first volume of a three-part survey of the entire corpus of piano music written by the Scottish composer and academic Sir Alexander Mackenzie. It presents four attractive and interesting works, which are entertaining, always enjoyable, and well crafted.

Biographical details of the composer are widely available in reference books and websites. Modesty nearly, but not quite, prevents me from linking to a short introduction that I wrote last year. For the purpose of this review three things need to be recalled. Firstly, Alexander Mackenzie, along with Parry and Stanford is often seen as one of the pillars of the English Musical Renaissance, which began in the late 1800s. Secondly, despite his Scottish birth, he does not often indulge in out and out ‘tartanry’. There are naturally several exceptions to this, including the Pibroch Suite for violin and orchestra and the Scottish Piano Concerto. And there are the Burns Rhapsodies for orchestra, but even here his use of Scoticisms is typically subtle rather than overt. And finally, there is nothing avant-garde here. The great romantic composers of Wagner, Liszt and Schumann often infuse this music. In his piano works, Chopin is sometimes a model and every so often the listener will hear an echo (or is it anticipation) of Edward Elgar. Mackenzie is typically a European composer rather than a Scottish, or even British, national one.

Christopher Howell, in the liner notes, explains that the opening Six Compositions, op.20 (1879) were dedicated to a certain Miss May Ross Gillespie, whom, he imagines, was an accomplished amateur pianist. That said, these pieces are no cinch to play, despite being in the much derided ‘salon music’ genre. The opening ‘Hymnus’ has nothing fusty about it. It is a little song of praise that is wholly uplifting. The ‘Ritornello’ does as the title suggests and repeats the refrain in a pleasingly coquettish manner. The ‘Reminiscence’ is an example of Mackenzie’s understated use of a Celtic idiom. This is the most thoughtful movement in this these Compositions. The ‘Chasse aux Papillons Étude’ is a musically interesting little study that is hardly for beginners. I loved the ‘Reverie’ which looks forward to the composer’s ever popular Benedictus, originally written for violin and piano and subsequently orchestrated. The final ‘Dance’ is a vibrant little rondo. In one of the episodes Mackenzie has introduced a sly nod to his heritage: a few Scotch snaps and just the hint of a bagpipe drone. This is an altogether captivating set of pieces which gets this survey of Mackenzie’s piano music off to a great start.

If any work on this CD deserves a place in the repertoire of pianists, it is the ‘Trois Morceaux’ op.15 composed in 1878. Chopin is the obvious influence over the first two numbers. The ‘Valse Serieuse’ balances typically melancholic opening and closing sections with something a little more acerbic in the middle ‘eight’. This is followed by the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Nocturne’ which is my favourite number on this CD. The ‘soaring’ theme is partnered with an almost unremitting triplet accompaniment. The cognoscenti would state that this music is wholly derivative: and they would be correct. But who cares? Mackenzie has created a perfect nocturnal mood that inspires and moves the listener. It is a little bit of heaven. If Classic FM gave it a chance it could become a national favourite. Eulogising over!
Robert Schumann is the inspiration for the ‘Ballade’. There is no indication as to what the underlying ‘story’ may have been. This three-part work opens with a typically Schumann-esque ‘moto perpetuo’ written in a rapid 6/8-time signature. The middle section is in complete contrast. Here Mackenzie seems once again to recall his Scottish background. For a moment we are conscious of the hills of heather and the tales of the Highlands. Then the ‘toccata’ returns to complete what is clearly a ballad of both joy and sadness.

Jottings (in two books) were composed for the educational market in 1916. Howell explains that they were dedicated to ‘his [Mackenzie’s] friend Samuel Aitken’, who had been ‘a vigorous if sometimes abrasive secretary to the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the later 1890s’. The titles of these six Jottings owe much to the prevailing pastoralism: ‘On the Village Green’, ‘Gossiping’, ‘Drums and Trumpets’, ‘Humours,’ ‘A Game in the Garden’ and the final ‘“Heave Ho!” - Sea Song’. My favourite number is this modal finale. Like a lot of ‘teaching pieces’ Mackenzie is not in the least patronising towards the tyro. He seems to have put as much care into these delightful miniatures as in his major works. They are fun and present portraits of a world no longer relevant to ‘the wiser youngsters of today.’ (Robert Louis Stevenson). I hope that one day the score of this little collection is made available for the less-young pianist like myself! I would enjoy playing them.

The most substantial essay on this disc is the English Air with Variations, op.81. This was composed in 1915. The theme has not been identified. It is possible that the composer has made a ‘pastiche’ that ticks all the boxes for an ‘English Air’. This is a major set of variations, that explores a wide range of pianistic formulae. The most remarkable is the fourth. Here Mackenzie has created a passage of ‘pungent dissonances’ that seem quite out of character for a high-Victorian composer. Yet somehow, they feel right at this point in the work’s progress. Listeners will note the almost Elgarian sonorities of the penultimate ‘lento.’ The finale is massive and musically complex. This is an incredibly enjoyable and satisfying set of variations for piano that has seldom been excelled by any British composer in any age. It deserves a secure niche in the repertoire of all pianists who love the music of our country.

The liner notes are always extremely important in any CD exploring music that has been largely unheard for several generations. Christopher Howell has provided a model example. There are some succinct biographical details which present the personality of the composer as well as some interesting details about his personal circumstances and his wide-ranging music achievement. The introduction to the piano works is essential reading which allows the listener to develop a paradigm for understanding this music. And finally, there are short but concise discussions about each work. This is extremely useful, as there is virtually nothing else in critical literature that features this information. I concede that there may well be several contemporary reviews hiding away in archives, but as of now, there is no essay or dissertation entitled The Piano Music of Alexander Mackenzie. Finally, there are the usual notes about the performer. My only (minor) concern is that the cover is just a wee bit drab

It should be noted that Murray McLachan recorded a small selection of Mackenzie’s piano music on The Scottish Romantics (DivineArt 2-5003). It was reviewed here and here. I understand that this CD has been deleted.

I was impressed by the sound quality of this CD which emphasises the excellent tone of the piano. Howell has given all four works (and their several parts) an ideal recital. Certainly, following the sheet music (where possible) revealed an accurate and committed account.

I look forward to reviewing the remaining two volumes in this series of Mackenzie’s piano music. Based on this present CD, I imagine that the ‘journey of exploration’ of this little kent repertoire will be equally enjoyable and satisfactory. 

Track Listing:
Alexander Campbell MACKENZIE (1847-1935)
Six Compositions, op.20 (1879
Trois Morceaux, op.15 (1877)
Jottings – 6 Cheerful Little Pieces (1916) Books 1 and 2 (1916)
English Air with Variations, op.81 (1915)
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studios of Griffa & Figli s.r.l., Milan, Italy, 11 February 2016, 14 February 2017

Sheva Collection SH221

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Celebrating Peter Racine Fricker’s 100th Anniversary

Peter Racine Fricker (1920-90) is often regarded as an énfant terrible of British music: especially by people who do not know his music. Yet, he was once deemed to be one of the most promising post-war composers (along with Humphrey Searle and Iain Hamilton). Fricker has a reputation of being a radical. Certainly, his prevailing aesthetic was far removed from the pastoralism of Vaughan Williams and the post-Elgarian bombast of William Walton. Instead, he turned towards Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartok, and Igor Stravinsky for musical inspiration. Looking back on his musical achievement from 2020, we see a composer who created ‘an impressive body of work in his highly expressive, urbane and freely atonal language.’ (Lyrita CD Advert). Critically, it has been suggested that the lack of interest in Fricker’s music may be that its style falls between two stools: too traditional for the late twentieth century avant-garde enthusiasts and too ‘modern’ (‘progressive’ and ‘aggressive’) for more traditional listeners.

Brief Biography of Peter Racine Fricker
  • Peter Racine Fricker was born in Ealing, London on 5 September 1920. As his name implies, he was a descendant of the French playwright Jean Racine.
  • After attending St Paul’s School, London, Fricker entered the Royal College of Music (RCM). His tutors were R.O. Morris for composition and Ernest Bullock for organ.
  • Five years of war service were completed between 1941-1946. Fricker was a radio operator in the Royal Airforce.
  • After the war, Fricker had further lessons with the Hungarian emigré composer Mátyás Seiber at Morley College.
  • Fricker married Audrey Clench in 1943.       
  • In 1947 he secured the A.J. Clements Prize for his Wind Quintet, op.5.
  • Two years later, Fricker gained the Koussevitzky prize with his Symphony No.1.
  • In 1951 Fricker won the Arts Council Festival of Britain competition for young composers’ prize with his Violin Concerto. He was aged 31 years.
  • Fricker accepted the headship of Morley College (1952-64) succeeding Michael Tippett.
  • Three years later he was appointed Professor of Music (1955-64) at the RCM.
  • In 1964, Fricker moved to the United Stated as visiting professor of music at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and in 1970 he became Chair of the Music Department there.
  • Fricker was appointed composer-in-residence of the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra in 1989.90
  • Peter Racine Fricker died in Santa Barbara on 1 February 1990.
Fricker’s compositions include five symphonies, several concertos, numerous chamber music pieces and various piano and organ works as well as the major choral work The Vision of Judgement, recently released on Lyrita. It is unfortunate that after Fricker moved to the United States, his music was largely forgotten, certainly until the recent revival by the recording industry. 

At present (2020), there is no standard biography of Peter Racine Fricker. Details of his life and work must be pieced together from dictionary and encyclopaedia entries as well as obituaries and other published sources. Detailed analysis of his music is limited to a handful of dissertations and thesis as well as references in the several studies of British post-war music. An important chapter in Francis Routh’s Contemporary British Music was published in 1972 and available online at MusicWeb International. Several essential articles about the composer are available in Music and Musicians, The Listener, and Music Review. There are plenty of historic concert and CD reviews in daily newspapers and music journals. The University of California, Santa Barbara maintains an ‘online’ catalogue as well as the Fricker Archive. There is no website devoted to the composer. 
I have posted a dozen articles and reviews of Fricker’s music on my blog, The Land of Lost Content. Essays here include a detailed study of the Wind Quintet, op.5 (Part I and Part II) and the Rondo Scherzoso (1947) as well as a comprehensive review of the Naxos recording of the String Quartets

Six Key Works:
Any appreciation of Peter Racine Fricker’s music is hampered by the lack of available recordings. At present, the Archiv website lists a dozen CDs which between them features about 20 works. Exploring file sharing groups and YouTube will reveal many more. Yet, any assessment must be based on commercially recorded music. Certainly, Fricker seems to rarely feature in the concert hall or recital room. The listener is fortunate in having recordings of the five symphonies, the Concerto for Violin and Small Orchestra op. 11 and The Vision of Judgement (all on Lyrita) as well as the Naxos disc of the complete string quartets and the complete organ works from Toccata.  
So, the list of five key works is limited to what is available on CD, download or streaming.  Check YouTube for uploads of these works. The first two pieces are immediately approachable: 
  • ·         Rondo Scherzoso (1948) (Lyrita REAM.2136)
  • ·         Comedy Overture Op. 32 (1958) (Lyrita REAM.2136)
  • ·         Litany for double string orchestra, op.25 (1956)
  • ·         Symphony No.2 op.14 (1950-51) (Lyrita REAM.2136)
  • ·         Violin Concerto op.11 (1950, rev.1974) (Lyrita SRCD.276) 

And, finally, if you have only time to hear one work:
The Litany for double string orchestra, op.25 (1956) may appear to be a strange work to recommend. However, I think that this piece could be regarded as entry level to Peter Racine Fricker. It was completed in 1955 and was premiered at the following year’s Cheltenham Festival. At the time, the work evoked superficial comparisons with Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia and Michael Tippett’s Double Concerto for string orchestra. In fact, Fricker’s music is edgier and bleaker than the older composers. The powerful effect of this music is derived from the plainsong motive and various tonal and 12-tone techniques deployed. Despite the austere nature of Litany, Fricker handles his material with skill resulting in some excellent scoring. It has been uploaded to YouTube.

Fricker’s achievement in composition has been summed up by Colin Mason, writing nearly 60 years ago: ‘All his works are distinguished by their concentration of thought, harmonic density, subtlety and inventiveness of structure and originality of design.’  

Saturday 20 June 2020

It’s not British, but…French Virtuoso Organ Music played by Gillian Weir

I remember buying the original 1977 vinyl album of French Virtuoso Organ Music played by Gillian Weir in the Symphony One record shop in Bath Street, Glasgow (long closed). It was my introduction to the organ music of Marcel Dupré. Like many of my LPs this one was disposed of when moving home.

The opening work is Dupré’s well-loved Variations sur un [Vieux] Noël, op.20. The story goes that it was composed during a train journey in the United States. Structurally, the piece consists of ten variations on the French carol ‘Noël nouvelet’. The Variations themselves are of three types: melodically unaltered with the ‘interest’ in the accompaniment, those where the tune becomes well and truly hidden in the texture and finally where the melody is heard in canon (following each other around).  The final variation presents the carol as the subject of a fugue with various entries using the same theme but written in different note values. The work ends with an impressive carillon, bringing the work to a breath-taking conclusion. The trick in playing this work is to exploit that maximum amount variety derived from the registrations. Gillian Weir rises to the challenge here in presenting a vibrant palette of colourful stops.

The track listing seems to have got a wee bit confused with details of Saint-Saëns’ Fantaisie. It states that it is op.159. Looking at the composer’s catalogue indicates that this opus number was applied to a song: ‘Hymne à la paix’ composed in 1919 for high voice and piano. Now, Saint-Saëns wrote three Fantaisies for organ: No.1 in E flat major (no opus number) (1857), No.2 in D flat major op.101 (1895) and No. 3, op.157 in C major (1919). The work that Gillian Weir has so brilliantly recorded is in fact the Fantaisie No.1: I have checked this to the score. This was the composer’s earliest published work. This Fantaisie is conceived in two parts, with a ‘bubbling’ opening section where ‘flutes chase one another across the manual’, whilst the second part is a feisty march closing with a triumphant coda. It remains the composer’s best-loved work for the King or Instruments (aside from the ubiquitous Organ Symphony). 

Any extracts from Louis Vierne’s 24 Pièces de Fantaisie are always a worthy additions to any recital. Gillian Weir has included three excellent examples. ‘Feux Follets’ from the second Suite of this collection is one of the composer’s most ‘impressionistic’ pieces. The title is translated as ‘Will o’ the Wisp’. A glance at the score shows that this is a seriously tricky piece, despite it relatively restrained mood. It could be described as a scherzo in search of a tune, which never quite appears.
‘Naïades’ (which is spelt in the track listing as ‘Naides’) is another virtuosic scherzo. The title relates to mythical female beings, the Water Nymphs, often associated with streams and running water. This liquid allusion is made with increasingly complex scales, subtle chromaticism and well-contrived impressionistic devices. It is my favourite piece on this CD and is played with bewitching craft.
The ‘Toccata’ is a splendid example of the genre. It is written in the ‘difficult’ key of B flat minor (five flats) and is a perpetuum mobile, with little respite.  Demanding an exceptional technique, this work presents a ‘relentlessly drumming’ sound which leads to a triumphant and convincing conclusion. It remains one of Louis Vierne’s most popular pieces.

Jacques Charpentier’s ‘L’Ange a la Trompette’ was his debut organ work. It was composed in 1954 whilst he was still a student. The music has several influences including Jehan Alain, Olivier Messiaen and Hindu music of which Charpentier made a special study. The title, ‘The Angel with the Trumpet’ refers to the Angel of the Apocalypse in the New Testament book of Revelation. The music conjures up an image of ‘angelic beings flood[ing] in from every corner of the universe, spread across the sky in their awesome magnificence.’ It is hard to understand why this early masterpiece is so infrequently played.

Marcel Dupré’s hugely powerful Symphony No.2 in C sharp minor, op. 26 was published in 1929. The opening movement balances several ‘panels’ of contrasting music including a harsh and violent opening passage, scuttering semiquavers, a quiet but menacing excursion on soft string stops and a grotesque ‘fanfare’. The ‘Intermezzo’ is hardly relaxing. This music is ominous and strangely astringent. The final movement is a blistering ‘Toccata’ which ticks all the boxes for a classic French ‘finale’. Here the sinister chords, which may suggest a ‘march’ are balanced by a short section of uneasy repose, before the piece concludes with powerful peroration based on the music previously heard. 

It is redundant to state that Gillian Weir presents a masterclass in French organ music performance on this CD. Equally unnecessary to maintain that the three manual Hradetzky Organ in Royal Northern College of Music is a splendid instrument. The remastering of the ‘old’ 1976 vinyl recording is near perfect. The readable and informative liner notes are written by Gillian Weir specially for this reissue. The essential technical specification of the organ is included.

I noted above that I got rid of this LP many years ago. Since that time, I have attended several of Gillian Weir's recitals and I have heard the Hradetzky Organ on a couple of occasions. But it is fantastic to have this exciting, technically demanding and imaginative recording in my library once again.

Track Listing:
Marcel DUPRÉ (1886-1971) Variations sur un Noël, op.20 (1922)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Fantaisie No. 1 in E flat major (1857)
Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Feux Follets, from 24 Pièces de fantaisie: Deuxième Suite op.53 no.4 (1926); Naïades, from 24 Pièces de fantaisie: Quatrième Suite, op.55, no.4 (1927); Toccata in B flat major from 24 Pièces de fantaisie: Deuxième Suite op.53, no.6 (1926)
Jacques CHARPENTIER (1933-2017) L’Ange a la trompette (1954)
Marcel DUPRÉ Symphony No.2, op.26 (1929)
Gillian Weir (organ)
Rec. Hradetzky Organ, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. November 1976
With thanks to MusicWeb International where this review was first published.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Some thoughts on E.J. Moeran’s Theme and Variations for piano (1920) Part 2

The ‘premiere’ performance of Theme and Variations was given by Moeran during the 469th concert of the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club held on 27 May 1920. One interesting aside is an entry into the Club’s Suggestion Book that ‘it should be possible for members to buy tobacco at the club’ It is signed by the composer. Moeran had taken up pipe-smoking in his army days and continued until the end of his life. (Maxwell, 2014). The Club did not take him up on the proposition.

The first ‘public’ performance of the Theme and Variations was advertised in The Times on 10 October 1921. Miss Dorothea Vincent was billed to play the work at the Wigmore Hall on Friday 14 October at 3:15 pm.  The concert included three Sonatas by Scarlatti, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, op.90 and Cyril Scott’s massive ‘Introduction and Fugue’ from his Suite No.1 for piano, op.75 (1910) Reporting on the concert, the unsigned critic in The Times (15 October 1921) felt that:
 'we did not quite make out Mr Moeran’s music. It seemed as if it demanded the orchestra; for when the seven diatonic notes are sounded together it is obvious that some of them are substantive and intended, therefore, to be louder than others which are passing notes, and this distinction is easy for the orchestra, but difficult for fingers to make. Still, that the effect was a little ‘muddy’ did not seem to be any fault of the player; on the contrary, one was surprised that it came out as clearly as it did.'
The Daily Telegraph (15 October 1921) reported that ‘by way of novelty, Miss Vincent gave us a Theme and Variations in F minor by E.J. Moeran, a composer with whose name the writer is unfamiliar.’  The reviewer felt that:
‘The theme itself is quite a good one for its purpose, and the elaborations evolved from it are fanciful enough, without ever becoming ‘free’ to the point of completely disguising their origin. The work is written in a modern harmonic idiom [and] was played with plenty of skill and sympathy by Miss Vincent.’

The Theme and Variations was published by Schott and Co. in 1923.  In Volume 2 of the collected edition of Moeran’s piano music (Thames Publishing, 1998) John Talbot explains that despite the composer’s ‘often-avowed dislike’ of Robert Schumann’s music, there is a definite nod towards the German composer’s Études Symphoniques, op.13. This is more to do with mood and technique rather than duration.  Another possible work impacting on Moeran’s Theme and Variations is Gabriel Fauré’s eponymous op.73. Neither does it take much imagination to hear the influence of Moeran’s teacher John Ireland. In fact, the theme itself seems to echo the Holy Boy (1913). In the same year as the Theme and Variations were completed, Ireland composed his magisterial Piano Sonata and concluded his well-loved Three London Pieces: ‘Chelsea Reach’, ‘Ragamuffin’ and ‘Soho Forenoons’.

R.J. McNeil (1982) understands that in this work, Moeran ‘demonstrates a command of pianistic devices and effects throughout six variations and a virtuoso finale.’ McNeil does point out that ‘some might think that the finale is weakened by a predominance of technical effects which do not seem to proceed naturally from the development of the theme.’

Geoffrey Self (1986) was not impressed with Moeran’s Theme and Variations: he thinks that the theme, ‘while of haunting beauty’ offers too few opportunities for variation, which appear to him to be ‘uneven in quality.’ Again, Self considers that the finale is ‘not entirely successful.’ He does not give a reason, but it is possibly that the quality of the piano writing is sometimes less than convincing. He states that the third variation, the ‘march’ is ‘uncouth in texture’. The only positive element of the piece for Self is the 5th variation with its alteration between ‘violent declamatory octaves’ and the quiet ‘withdrawn chordal passages’.  Here, there is a ‘glimpse of Moeran’s deeper self and…his latent power.’

Despite the misgivings of some critics both ‘then and now’, Moeran’s Theme and Variations is an appealing work that provides the listener with considerable musical interest, highlighting a wide range of emotion and textures. There is both vivacity and reflection in these pages in what is a typically Moeran-esque composition, despite a few pianistically awkward moments. For me, this is music that speaks of the Norfolk and the Irish landscape without ever descending into ‘Pastoral’ or ‘Irish’ clichés.

McNeill, R. J., A critical study of the life and works of E. J. Moeran. PhD thesis, Faculty of Music, The University of Melbourne (1982)
Maxwell, Ian, The Importance of Being Ernest John: Challenging the Misconceptions about the Life and Works of E. J. Moeran, Doctoral theses, Durham University, 2014
Self, Geoffrey, The Music of E.J. Moeran, Toccata Press, 1986
Ed. Talbot, John, E.J. Moeran: The Collected Solo Piano Music, Volume 2 Thames Publishing, 1998

E.J. Moeran & Gordon Jacob Piano Music/Iris Loveridge Lyrita REAM.1103: original LP release Moeran Piano Music, RCS3 (1959/2008)
E.J. Moeran: Complete Piano Works/ Eric Parkin JMSCD 2 (1994)
E.J. Moeran: The Complete Solo Piano Music/Una Hunt ASV CD DCA 1138 (2003)
E.J. Moeran: The Complete Solo Piano Music + works by his English and Irish contemporaries/Duncan Honeybourne EM Records 0012-13 (2013)

Sunday 14 June 2020

Some thoughts on E.J. Moeran’s Theme and Variations for piano (1920) Part 1

Amongst works celebrating their centenary in 2020, Moeran’s Theme and Variations may seem like a relatively light-weight, unimportant anniversary. Yet this short piano piece marks a significant mile post in the composer’s career. Here we have a subtle fusion of Moeran’s English and Irish sensibilities as well as his growing technical command of formal and technical procedures. It is a work that is worthy of study as well as giving considerable pleasure and enjoyment.

In January 1919, Ernest John (E.J. Moeran) was demobilised from the Army. After a possible interlude as a teacher at Uppingham School and time spent in Ireland, he returned to the Royal College of Music. There he studied composition with John Ireland. The works that Moeran composed around this period included his extensive Piano Trio (1920), the song cycle Ludlow Town (1920) and his first recognised orchestral work, In the Mountain Country: [A] Symphonic Impression (1921). Geoffrey Self (1986) has written that from this point ‘the main influences to be heard in his music were now in place: his teacher, his Irish and East Anglian heritages, and his love of rural England.’

Virtually every commentator on the Theme and Variations for piano implies that the theme ‘seems instantly recognisable’ yet hard to pin down. Eric Parkin (CD Liner Notes, 1994) suggests ‘A Norfolk folksong, surely?’ Self (1986) states that the ‘theme could pass muster as one of the Norfolk folk-tunes he was shortly to collect and arrange’ and publish in 1923. The short answer is that this theme is one of Moeran’s own devising. 


This is the longest of Moeran’s piano works, lasting for nearly 14 minutes. The formal structure of the piece consists of the ‘Andante’ theme (Fig.1) followed by six variations and concluding with a long finale.  The ‘theme’, echoing English (possibly Norfolk) folksong, is written with a largely Dorian mode melody centred on F. This means the Db in a F melodic minor scale is typically played as D natural. This theme has a ‘diatonic, full chordal accompaniment’ emphasising the folk-like simplicity of the tune. The melody is played in octaves between left and right hands.
The first variation is marked ‘Poco piu moto’ implying a little more movement. McNeil (1982) suggests that it is a ‘moto perpetuo’ but it also features some delicate arabesques shared between hands. This leads into an ‘Allegro scherzando’ which introduces parallel fourth and fifth chords and jagged harmonies. Rapidly changing time signatures and ‘chattering semiquavers’ add to this variation’s vibrancy. The mood changes with an ‘energetic march’ which builds to a climax before dying away into the distance. This is characterised by filled octaves in the right hand supported by bare octave running quavers in the left hand. Variation 4 is much calmer and reflective: it should be played ‘Allegretto sostenuto’. Moeran has introduced a flexible metrical system that juxtaposes 9/8 and 6/8 bars. The fifth variation, a ‘Vivace’, is intricate. Partly presented as a ‘gigue’ with triplets superimposed on 4/4 time it is balanced by minim chords played with ‘una corda’ (soft pedal). 


The last variation (Fig.2) moves the focus of the music from Norfolk to Ireland. This is the emotional heart of the work and shows considerable depth of feeling. After a series of powerful and assertive chords this heartbreakingly beautiful music enters the finale. This complex ‘allargando ma mon troppo lento’ is a ternary (three-part) song movement with an extended coda which is truly dramatic and virtuosic in effect. It presents a thesaurus of pianistic devices with some recollection of phrases from the foregoing variations.
To be concluded

Thursday 11 June 2020

Geza Anda plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21 KV. 467 (Elvira Madigan)

In 1971, I was captivated by the cover of this record. I discovered it in the music library at Coatbridge High School. As a teenager, I think that I was immediately fascinated by the beautiful lady – ‘Elvira Madigan’ - featured on the front cover as played by Pia Degermark. Furthermore, I understood that Deutsche Grammophon was probably the ‘best’ record label available. I had never heard of Geza Anda and the Salzburg Mozart Camerata Academica at that time. I am not sure that I had heard any of Mozart Piano Concertos, save perhaps by accident on Radio 3. I remember asking Mrs G’s permission before borrowing the album and heading home on the school bus. I was probably ribbed by more progressive music listeners who used to carry the latest LPs by Led Zeppelin, Yes and Genesis to and from school. Notwithstanding, I got it home and put it straight onto the Decca radiogram in my parent’s sitting room. I started at track one and played it through without a break - apart from turning the LP over. I was only half listening. At least until got to the second track on the second side.  I was stopped in my tracks by the beautiful ‘andante’. I recall thinking that I had never heard anything so lovely. Strangely, nearly 50 years later, I still hold to this view. I am not a great Mozart fan, but like the person once said, I like what I know, and know what I like. This concerto displays for me classical perfection tinged with a deep early romantic sensibility.
No need to provide a detailed note about the Piano Concerto No.21 in C major. Analyses abound. Save to say that the work’s first movement, ‘Allegro maestoso,’ is a vivacious, precursor to the introverted and perfectly balanced second movement, ‘Andante.’ The finale, an ‘Allegro vivace assai,’ is a high-spirited and irrepressible romp.

As for the 1967 film Elvira Madigan, it seems to have disappeared into oblivion. I have read the plot, but have never seen the film, and am not sure that I need to see it in full. Certainly, I have watched extracts on YouTube, and it appears to be a film of its time, slightly sub-hippy.  That said, the photography is often quite beautiful. But nowadays, mention the title and virtually ‘everyone’ associates it with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.20. In fact, for many people the two are inseparable – Piano Concerto in C major ‘Elvira Madigan’ K.467.

The record has been remastered and re-presented on many occasions, from LP to cassette tape, CD and download. The recording issue history of this version is quite complex, with the Concerto having first been released in 1962 coupled with the Piano Concerto No.17 in G major, KV 453 on side one. I never actually bought a copy of the original vinyl album, but the picture and the music has haunted me down through the years. I know that there are some 142 recordings of this concerto in the current record catalogues with big name performers like Alfred Brendel, Martha Argerich, Earl Wild and Howard Shelley. Yet, when I want to hear this work, I always turn to Geza Anda’s recording made nearly sixty years ago. It is permanently on my now aging iPod.
Finally, the entire Piano Concerto in Geza Anda’s 1961 performance can be heard on YouTube, complete with some selected scenes from the film (Rated PG). (Accessed 11 April 2020)

Monday 8 June 2020

Robert Farnon (1917-2005) Flying High!

For several weeks the world has been in lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Under this measure, unnecessary travel was banned. This clearly included short and long-haul flights as well as restrictions on visiting local beauty spots and much else besides. I noticed from my garden that vapour trails from the transatlantic flight paths tp Manchester Airport had virtually ceased. In a contrary manner, it got me thinking about holidays past and present, both to the United States and to those nearer to home such as Sunny Spain and Romantic Rome.
Although I saw Concorde on several occasions, I was never blessed with a trip: I have never flown supersonic.
Only recently I discovered that the great ‘light’ music composer Robert Farnon made a timely musical celebration of this iconic aircraft’s inaugural journey.  On 9 April 1969, Concorde flew the few short miles from Filton Aerodrome, near Bristol to RAF Fairford in Oxfordshire. British Airways had commissioned this spirited march to ‘mark the launch of Concorde, the first passenger supersonic airliner, a great feat of engineering and an emblem of the power of Anglo-French co-operation.’
The Concorde March was issued by CRD (Continental Record Distributors) on a 7-inch vinyl single and was coupled with Farnon’s equally bubbly Holiday Flight which had been reworked for the occasion. 

The Concorde March is more in the style of Farnon’s film and concert hall music than his usual ‘light’ idiom. It is bold and brash from the first to the last note. Yet, there is not such a great contrast between the main march music and the ‘trio’ as might be expected. On the other hand, it certainly deserves to have more than a single recording in the CD catalogues.
We are in more familiar Farnon style with Holiday Flight composed around 1958. This piece is full of nineteen-fifties optimism for foreign travel. The destination here is most likely to be Mallorca or the Costa Blanca rather than Rio or New York. This is cheerful music that reflects all the excitement and possibilities of post-War ‘continental’ holidays.

For interest these two pieces were recorded in West Ham Central Mission (now the Plaistow Memorial Community Church). The London Symphony Orchestra was conducted by the composer. In 2019, CRD reissued this on CD to commemorate the half-centenary of this remarkable event.
MusicWeb International has explained that these two pieces were originally re-released by Nimbus as digital only singles, but several aviation museums requested hard copy CDs for their gift shops.

Both pieces have been uploaded to YouTube: Concorde March and Holiday Flight (Accessed April 2020)

Friday 5 June 2020

Anthony Hedges (1931-2019): Festival Dances, op.64 (1977)

Anthony Hedges was an eclectic composer. He is probably best recalled for his ‘light music’ scores, which include evocatively titled pieces such as An Ayrshire Serenade the Humber Suite, Kingston Sketches and the Overture: Heigham Sound. Yet, there was another side to his musical aesthetic. As Grove’s Dictionary reminds us, ‘his First Symphony (1975) is a sustained argument in 20th-century tonality, maintaining a functional distinction between dissonance and consonance over its entire duration…’ Equally ‘modernistic’ was his ‘serial’ Four Piano Pieces. It is unfortunate that only the piece of ‘serious’ music currently in the CD catalogues is the Sonata for Piano (1973). The Symphony No.1 is available on YouTube.

The Festival Dances, op.64 belong to Hedges lighter works. But this does not imply any diminishment of his technical skills and invention. It was commissioned by the Borough of Milton Keynes to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.  

This three-movement work is almost symphonic in conception with its fast-slow-fast structure. Certainly, the work’s length at just under 20 minutes is nearly of symphonic scale. The opening ‘allegro vivace’ is written in a slightly simplified sonata form, with first and second subjects closely related despite their different characters and moods. After an opening fanfare, the bouncy tune begins its adventures. Paul Conway (MusicWeb International, 2017) has noted the ‘harmonic waywardness’ of this theme.  The vibrancy of the music calms down before the foot-taping, jazzy tune remerges. Much use is made of brass and the clarinet in these bars. After another slight repose the music build up to its peroration, with the main subjects being recalled.
The ‘lento’ is much more serious and reflective. The main theme is skilfully decorated by arabesques played by clarinets and flutes and tuned percussion (celeste and harp). There is just a hint of the ‘blues’ in this melody. The middle section of the ‘lento’ is a chorale for brass and strings. Despite the relatively sustained nature of this music, the movement builds to a huge climax. This is clearly a celebration of the deeper realities of the Queen’s Jubilee.
The third ‘Dance’ an ‘allegro assai’ is vivacious and bright and brings the work to a splendid conclusion. Many energetic brass interruptions foil the main theme’s progress. The listener will hardly be surprised to hear a reprise of the opening theme of the first Dance.

The Festival Dances were first performed at Milton Keynes on 7 June 1977. Sir Charles Groves conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. I was unable to find any further details or reviews of this concert.
The first broadcast performance was given on Radio 3 on 20 January 1981. The BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Bryden Thomas. The other work in this concert was the premiere of British composer John Luke Rose’s remarkable Symphony No.1 (The Mystic). This massive work can be heard on YouTube. It deserves a revival in the concert hall or the recording studio.

In 2005 Anthony Hedges’ Festival Dances were issued by Dutton Epoch (CDLX 7151) on their second volume of British Light music premieres. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia was conducted by Gavin Sutherland. The album included music by Philip Lane, Haydn Wood, Carlo Martelli and Richard Addinsell.  
Reviewing this CD for the American Record Guide (September/October 2005), Gerald S. Fox thought that it was ‘like something Leonard Bernstein might have written if he were British. The piece is in three parts and is bright, imaginative, upbeat, and sentimental. Part III is evocative, in its jazzy way, of the hustle and bustle of a city (shades of On the Town!)’. Paul Snook writing for Fanfare (March 2006) thought that Festival Dances was the most ‘substantial’ work on the CD. He admired the composer’s ability to write ‘comfortably on every level of accessibility’ and concluded by evoking Malcolm Arnold’s tradition ‘of civilized celebration and lyrical graciousness and it is eminently listenable.’
Rob Barnett (MusicWeb International 5 October 2005) gave some musical comparisons. He felt that the opening ‘allegro vivace’ has ‘a distinctive toe-tapping American accent rather like Bernstein but with a British 'kick'.’ On the other hand, ‘the ‘Lento’ is a lovely sustained piece with a suspicion of [Miklós] Rózsa's theme for El Cid.’ Barnett thinks that the third Dancepicks up on the brilliance of another British master, Malcolm Arnold - his best film music with a slightly alcohol befuddled hiccup’ His conclusion is that this is ‘a very successful piece of ebullient entertainment with its own green heart in the lento.’

Anthony Hedges’s Festival Dances have been uploaded to YouTube

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Edward Cowie: String Quartets and a solo piece.

There are plenty of biographical details about Edward Cowie available on the Internet. However, a few pointers may help the listener. Cowie was born in Birmingham on 17 August 1943.  He began to compose at the early age of 11 years. Later, he had composition lessons with Alexander Goehr and Witold Lutoslawski as well encouragement from Michael Tippett. Cowie has had several academic postings including lectureships at Lancaster, Kassel and Wollongong Universities. In 1995 he returned to England after residence in Australia. Here he has had many musical appointments, collaborations and commissions. His non-musical interests include painting and ornithology.
The composer’s catalogue is wide-ranging and includes major orchestral and choral works, a huge amount of chamber music as well as an opera. His musical style creates a satisfactory equilibrium between an acknowledgement of past influences such as Bach, Debussy, and Messiaen, along with an ever-developing exploration of new musical forms and techniques. His music is regularly inspired by paintings (often his own) and the structural aspects of physical science.
I am grateful to the composer for some elucidations and explanations of this music, and his permission for me to include them in my script.

In the opening paragraphs of the liner notes, Cowie outlines his musical aesthetic in six points. Three of them stand out (to me).  In this philosophy he is inspired more by natural history than musical history, secondly, drawing/painting before composing helps him to create the ‘soundscape’ of his music and finally for him ‘sound, colour, order, disorder, shape, pattern, form are all connected in a kind of grand unification.’ The listener does not need to subscribe to this manifesto to enjoy these quartets. However, these pointers may help to form a working understanding of the music. From a technical point of view, Edward Cowie was a proficient violinist before seriously injuring his left hand during a University rugger match. That said, he had the experience of playing many of the great masterworks of the string ensemble repertoire. It has left an indelible impression on his compositional technique.

The opening work on this CD is the earliest. It was composed in 1969 when the composer was in his mid-twenties. The composer explained that this was his third attempt at writing a String Quartet. Interestingly, this piece is not featured in the ‘works list’ included in Anthony Burton’s 1982 portrait of the composer (Musical Times February 1982). Cowie explained the reason for this. He had kept the work under wraps: it had not been published at that time. Last year (2019) he ‘re fell in love with it.’
This Quartet is subtitled ‘Dungeness Nocturnes’. It is not ‘descriptive’ or even ‘impressionistic’ music but draws its essence from nature rather than pictorial representation. That said, anyone who has explored Dungeness by day or evening will relate to this music. It seems to be streaked with sunlight, seafoam and breeze. The contrasts of wide-open spaces, the nuclear reactor and the intrusive wind turbines all seem to be included in this musical response. Despite its ambiguous relationship to modernity, this Quartet is perfectly approachable. I think that the technical strategy underpinning of this work is Cowie’s rejection of the strictures of serialism. The composer explained to me that he refused ‘to see dissonance or consonance as distant cousins but instead as part of a palette of sound which should be found through sensing and emotion and not systematisation.’  The formal structure of both the 1st and the 2nd Quartet would seem to be based on what Cowie has called a ‘tapestry of ideas and episodic variation’ like that used by the composer’s ‘greatest quartet love – Haydn.’

The String Quartet No. 2 was composed in 1977. It is subtitled ‘Crystal Dances.’ The idea for this work arose when Cowie was working as a physicist at university. He told me that he had ‘always been interested in the structural and dynamic properties of crystals, especially when quantum mechanics could set out some of the secret glories of chance combined with geometry.’  It is not a concept that I understand in the least, but the important thing is to realise that much of Cowie’s music results from a combination of various seemingly disparate natural or behavioural states. The present String Quartet No.2 ‘delves deeply into ultra-structures in states of growth and change’ in this case to the ‘crystal.’ This work’s progress could be said to represent a ‘time lapse film of crystal formation when a kind of primal choreography seems to set in...’ Musically, it is deliberately fragmented and seems to be throwing material around in a haphazard manner. But this may just be the lively underlying ‘dance’. We all know that this activity results in the perfectly formed crystal. Eventually, the String Quartet finishes with a well-deserved sense of repose, but with ever-bubbling movement just below the surface.

GAD is a ‘medical’ work: I had never heard of this acronym before. For the uninitiated, like myself, it means ‘generalised anxiety disorder.’ For sufferers, this generates feelings like stress, panic and worry which are ‘longer lasting, more extreme and far harder to control.’ Edward Cowie explained to me that anyone suffering from it will know what a battle it is to create and think clearly during bouts of severe anxiety.
Peter Sheppard Skærved had recently (2016) asked for a large-scale solo violin works to partner one of J.S. Bach’ immortal Partitas. The genesis of Cowie’s response was inspired by the ‘marvels of counterpoint and decoration and the great Bach[ian] architecture of harmony.’  Unfortunately, work on the piece was nearly halted by an onset of an episode of GAD.  Fortunately, it did not stop composition as should almost certainly have been the case. Cowie writes that the result of this struggle resulted in music that ‘hunts for calm’ but is ‘thrown about like a feather in the wind.’ The music sounds as if it might suffer a nervous breakdown and subsequent collapse at any stage, but miraculously it doesn’t.  This is (almost by definition) a strangely disjointed work, that displays struggle, which is hardly surprising, but also determination and final resolution. The musical language of this music is a diverse as its emotional background.

Habitat, rather than landscape, underpins the sentiment of String Quartet No.6 ‘Four Winds’. Edward Cowie has always been inspired by the beautiful reaches of Morecambe Bay off Lancashire and Westmorland. Now, he has not stated that this is the actual source of inspiration for this work, but it is certainly a good possibility. Cowie has regularly painted this part of the world, with his extraordinary Concerto for Orchestra partially inspired by the Bay’s tidal patterns. The final movement of his large Gesangbuch for mixed chorus and 13 instruments (1975-6) was named after the village of Hest Bank which lies on the shore of Morecambe Bay. Anyone who has explored this part of England will know about the relentless winds that can engulf this land and seascape. It can blow from every direction at once! Nevertheless, this is not a descriptive piece about weather or topography but reflects the ‘physical as well as metaphysical properties of nature in action.’ Despite this philosophical underpinning, this Quartet does make me think of Morecambe Bay. And that is no bad thing.
The structural principle is one of monothematic variation. Again, without the score I can only surmise that this means that the ‘melody’ persists through each section and the ‘variation’ takes place around the theme rather than of it. The four movements are titled after the ‘West’, ‘North’, ‘East’ and ‘South’ winds in that order. This is my favourite work on this remarkable new CD.

The performance of these four works are ideal. Clearly, I have nothing to compare them with, nor have I seen the scores. But every bar suggests that violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved and the other members of the Kreutzer Quartet have a great empathy with this music and create a magical and engrossing performance.

The liner notes are impressive. They begin with a presentation of Edward Cowie’s musical aesthetic and includes a discussion about some of the difficulties he has encountered with the reception of his work. This section includes his six-point ‘mind-sense map’ alluded to above. There follows some brief notes about each composition. Peter Sheppard Skærved then presents a short essay about ‘Playing Edward Cowie: a player-collaborator’s point of view.’ The usual composer and ensemble biographies follow. The most interesting thing about this booklet is the inclusion of the preparatory paintings Cowie made before starting work on his quartets. They are excellent and would grace any art collection. My favourite picture is of a fishing boat at Dungeness. Finally, there are a couple of photos of the composer in action: birdwatching on the Farne Islands and score writing at his music desk.

I understand that this is effectively volume 2 of Edward Cowie’s cycle of string quartets. In 2016 the NMC label released a CD of the Quartets Nos, 3, 4 and 5 (D222) performed by the Kreutzer Quartet.  I have not had the pleasure of hearing this disc but it has been reviewed on these pages by Hubert Culot. I understand that Cowie has three more String Quartets awaiting performance and recording.

This present CD part of an ongoing evaluation of Edward Cowie’s music that has been growing in the past few years. The composer tells me that this reassessment is planned to continue: The Concerto for Orchestra and the Clarinet Concerto No.2 are due to be released later this year. Certainly, there are many tantalising works in his catalogue that seem to cry out for recording. Let is hope that this is really an ongoing project. 

Track Listing:
Edward COWIE (b. 1943)
String Quartet No.1 ‘Dungeness Nocturnes’ (1969)
String Quartet No.2 ‘Crystal Dances’ (1977)
GAD for solo violin (2017)
String Quartet No.6 ‘The Four Winds’ (2012)
Kreutzer Quartet: Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), Mihailo Trandafilovski (violin), Clifton Harrison (viola), Neil Heyde (cello)
Rec. All Saints’ Church, Finchley, London 24 November 2017 (Quartet No. 1); St Michael’s Church, Highbury, London, 16 February 2018 (Quartet No. 2); 13 January 2019 (GAD); 26 March 2019 (Quartet No. 6)
MÉTIER msv 28603