Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett




Vienna Modern Masters

Margaret Lucy WILKINS (b.1939)
Musica Angelorum (1991) [11.03]
Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble/Plamen Djurov
Struwwelpeter (1973): Struwwelpeter; Cruel Frederick; Harriet and the matches; Augustus; The Inky Boys; Flying Robert [15.35]
Burnt Sienna: Etude for string trio (1974) [10.49]
FIREBIRD String Trio (Mieko Kanno (violin); Bridget Carey (viola); Zoe Martlew (cello).
366" for solo trombone (1986) [6.38]
Barrie Webb (trombone)
Symphony (1989): Exposition; Juxtaposition; Opposition [22.20]
Timįsoară Symphony Orchestra/Barrie Webb
rec. Sofia, 16 June 1999 (Musica); Sala Liceuluide Muzică 'Ion Vidu', Timįsoară, Romania, 10 Oct 1999 (Symphony); St Paul's Hall, Huddersfield University, 20, 22 June 2002. DDD


Margaret Lucy Wilkins proves, through this disc, to be a provocative composer. She is no camp-follower of new or even old romanticism. Certainly she is not in the neo-classical camp. Her co-ordinates are marked out in the regions of Tippett and Penderecki. Her orchestrational palette is suggestive of mature Szymanowski extruded through Tippett and Nicholas Maw. She is no enemy to the lyric voice but her expressive style is not bland or obvious.

Struwwelpeter is a song cycle of macabre poems but the wretched pleasure of this piece is not just in the macabre but in the protest references which speak to us in warning about Apartheid, the Holocaust, drug culture and nuclear war. These are hammered home by the playing of the old South African national anthem on an out of tune piano and the use of Offenbach's Barcarolle as a reminder of the long lines in procession towards the concentration camp 'shower blocks'. Caustic treatment of the words and the free lines of the ensemble are similar to parts of Walton's Facade though with a supercargo from Penderecki (Threnody - listen to the plummeting vol-planing violins at 07.01) and Maw (Life Studies). While Musica Angelorum bears its lyric antecedents the Trio is from a time when Wilkins was uncompromisingly avant garde.

Barrie Webb has the field to himself for 366 seconds in which the music is built from blocks of three and six seconds. The trombone is a natural singer. Had Wilkins written such a piece in the 1970s it would perhaps have played with the mewling, barking and howling avant-garde tricks of Vinko Globokar. As it is the work revels in the lyric, the sly, the rhythmically tangy and the squat and pawky natural accents of the instrument. It is stunningly recorded here.

Webb surrenders the trombone and picks up the baton for the 1989 symphony. This is in three named movements which are here laid down in a single track. Sibelian grace and nobility and Messiaen gamelan-jangle (4.38 I) mix happily and in splendid profusion.

A well documented calling card of a disc in which the composer must surely take some pride.

Rob Barnett

see also review by Hubert Culot and Gwyn Parry-Jones

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