Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Phantasy for two violins and piano Op 16;
Meditazioni sopra Coeurs Desolez Op 67 [version for oboe and piano];
Suite The Buddha for flute, oboe, violin, viola and cello Op 64;
Piano Trio No 1 in one movement Op 68;
Sonata in C for oboe and piano Op 100;
Piano Trio No 2 Op 138;
Duo for Cor Anglais and piano Op 156

Endymion Ensemble
Dutton CDLX 7106

This is the second CD from Dutton of Rubbra's music. The first came out last Autumn and includes the three Violin Sonatas[CDLX 7101]. Violinist Krysia Osostowicz and pianist Michael Dussek feature again which is good because they have developed a real feel for the music. Again Dutton's presentation is excellent - a colourful booklet, informative and interesting liner notes, this time by Martin Anderson and all at mid-price. Each of these works is worth dealing with in turn beginning with the 'Phantasy' of 1927. Catherine Manson is the extra violinist in this intense performance.

In 1976 to celebrate Rubbra's 75th birthday our own Lewis Foreman edited a collection of essays entitled 'Edmund Rubbra - Composer'. The late Harold Truscott wrote about this Phantasy in some considerable detail, and added, " I have devoted some space to this early work because I have long believed to be the first… key work in Rubbra's development. And earlier he had remarked that "it reveals the workings of Rubbra's mind". I never thought that I would hear this piece, but now having done so I feel quite knocked over by it. It has the typical harmonic qualities which you find in his early works,[like for example the 1st Violin Sonata] perhaps a Ravellian influence, but it an astonishingly contrapuntal work, which gradually achieves its glorious climax. It has not been heard for decades.

The 'Meditazione' has been often recorded, memorably in the early 70s by David Munrow. When Rubbra uses the word Meditation, which he does in several works, for example the Op117 'Meditations on a Byzantine Hymn' for viola, he is really offering a spiritual kind of variation technique in which he works around and views the theme from unusual angles. This is one of seven works which uses the recorder. It is good to hear it for oboe and piano and proves that the piece works beyond the confines of the original recorder and harpsichord.

Likewise the Oboe Sonata has had several recordings. I have always enjoyed the LP recording from 1981 of Peter Bree and Paul Komen. It is they who also recorded the 'Duo' for Cor Anglais and piano having given its premiere at the Wigmore Hall just 6 months before. Incidentally this new recording of both works is considerably more leisurely which I feel is good thing in the 'Duo', as this is an autumnal work well suited to the instrument.

The Suite The Buddha was reconstructed by Adrian Cruft [1921-87] a pupil of Rubbra's, with his permission, from incidental music written for radio in 1947. This was at a time when Rubbra was very sympathetic to eastern religions as was his friend and ex-teacher Cyril Scott [1879-1970]. It is a set of attractive miniatures, which is good to have recorded, as it seems unlikely that a concert performance would ever materialise.

The Holywell Piano Trio in an unconvincing acoustic recorded the Two Piano Trios on the now defunct Devorguilla label in 1993. The Hertz Trio recorded the first trio magnificently the previous year for CBC [MVCD 1042] now this new recording appears to add to our understanding of this great and original work. A more focused violin tone than the Holywells and a more sensitive pianist than the Hertz achieves a perfect combination. I had always felt that the 2nd trio a fine work [although not as convincing as the 1st] and again this performance proved it, reminding me of a radio broadcast I cherish from 1976 when the composer I think played the piano part.

So to recap, an excellent release in every way, well worth the investment and hopefully a pointer to perhaps a third CD, if so, perhaps it might include the beautiful Lyric Movement Op. 24 for Piano Quintet.

Gary Higginson

 See also review by Peter Grahame Woolf

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