This is an ideal introduction to Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970) for anyone
unfortunate enough not to have come across him. He studied in Barcelona with
Granados, became a pupil of Schoenberg in 1923, settled in Cambridge in 1939,
where he composed his best music. He distrusted analytical notes and his
ideal listener was the non-specialist with open ears.
Leo, Libra and the Concert for 8 are written for unusual chamber ensemble
combinations which fit exactly the Nieuw Ensemble's unusual line-up, which
for this CD includes guitar, mandolin and accordion with more usual instruments.
They were featured by the BBC and London Sinfonietta in the 70s, less often
more recently. Evocative music, with a succession of ravishing sounds; listener
friendly even for those still put off by serialism, which Gerhard uses in
a very personal way.
Gemini is for violin and piano, with extra sonorities from the strings inside.
The 1950 piano impromptus have Andalusian and Catalan echoes, the third is
like some of Schoenberg's piano music, with 'Central European rigour tempered
by Iberian warmth' (David Drew/Calum MacDonald).
The Amsterdam based Nieuw Ensemble is one of Europe's finest contemporary
music ensembles, and these 1996 recordings are impeccable. Full notes including
a year by year biography of this adopted English master. Wholeheartedly
Peter Grahame Woolf
[See also my reviews in S&H of Roberto Gerhard as featured
composer in Musica99
(Strasbourg) and of the Nieuw Ensemble at