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William BAINES (1899-1922)
Silverpoints (1920-21) [6:39]
Paradise Gardens (1918-19) [8:29]
Coloured Leaves (1919-20) [8:38]
Twilight Pieces (1921) [7:36]
Tides (1920-21) [5:33]
Seven Preludes (1919) [13:23]
E. J. MOERAN (1894-1950)
Stalham River (1921) [5:16]
The White Mountain (1929) [2:14]
Toccata (1921) [4:40]
Prelude (1935) [2:53]
Berceuse (1935) [2:28]
Bank Holiday (1925) [2:12]
Two Legends (1923) [9:16]
Eric Parkin (piano)
rec. May 1971, Decca Studio 3, West Hampstead, London (Baines); April 1970, St John’s, Smith Square, London (Moeran). ADD
first issued on LP as Lyrita Recorded Edition SRCS 60 (Baines) and a mixed recital of Moeran for cello and piano and solo piano SRCS 42
LYRITA SRCD266 [79.26]

These recordings were made some 35 years ago. At the time of first issue they were revolutionary. The Baines was completely new on the scene. The Moeran had been included with other of the composer’s piano solos on a 1960s vintage mono Lyrita. Those at Wyastone Lee behind the Lyrita rebirth have completely rethought the couplings in their CD reissue schedule. Taking Eric Parkin and some slight stylistic commonalities between the two composers generously brings together most of those two 1970s LPs. This leaves the Moeran cello duos on the shelf for now. The sound is analogue and warm. The digital transfer has not reduced the temperature.
The short-lived Yorkshire-born Baines was not entirely an impressionistic miniaturist as his Symphony recorded by a youth orchestra in the Lake District goes to show. Here however it is his piano morceaux that we meet. His Paradise Gardens is adroitly paced by Parkin to draw out the magic and the swirling drama. The recording is a shade colder than the appositely warm smoking jacket haze of the four Silverpoints, the suggestively fey Twilight Pieces or the fifth (Poppies gleaming in the Moonlight) of the Seven Preludes. Valse from Coloured Leaves is more quirkily humorous than we might expect. His grandeur is proclaimed by the final ‘leaf’ Purple Heights – closer perhaps the Medtner than the accustomed Scott-Debussy axis. Tides is an exercise in plangent marine suggestion. The delectably impressionistic Seven Preludes lie somewhere Chopin and Scriabin. The sardonic fury of the Fourth looks towards Prokofiev but the last prelude is sonorous with unmistakable echoes of Rachmaninov at his most toweringly tragic. It is way past time that we had a fully professional recording of the Symphony, the allegedly very Scriabinesque Poem for piano and orchestra and the two tone poems: the Poe-based Isle of the Fey and Thoughtdrift.
The Pierrot haze and moonlight is instantly dispelled by the Moeran pieces. Stalham River has some kinship with John Ireland but where Ireland can be emotionally costive Moeran is open to the sky. I have always had a soft spot for The White Mountain with its touching vulnerability. Toccata recalls the stony brilliance of the dramatic pages from Moeran’s Third Rhapsody. Bank Holiday has the exuberance of a Peter Warlock song. Moeran was closely associated with Warlock during the Eynsford years. A Folk-Story forms a diptych with Rune. Each has a Celtic accent with the former even more closely related to the Third Rhapsody. Rune is the closest of the Moeran pieces to the ‘lazy’ swirls and cross-currents of Baines, Bax’s darker solo and duet piano pieces and the sometimes dour ballades of Medtner.
The coupling on this disc is apt and generous. If you want a broader swathe of Moeran then go for the ASV disc with Una Hunt or J Martin Stafford’s Ismeron CD in which Parkin reprises his Lyrita studio recordings in digital sound. The latter runs to 79 minutes of Moeran piano solos. Parkin also re-recorded the Baines collection with additional pieces bringing the playing time to circa 73 minutes for Priory and Alan Cuckston mixed various Baines works with Goossens on Swinsty.
Good liner notes. Peter J Pirie who was an unjustly overlooked voice in British music literature. Roger Carpenter wrote the biography of Baines which can still be had from the British Music Society but which many years ago was published by Lewis Foreman’s Triad Press.
An apt and generous slice of 20th century British piano music magically reflective of two composers one strongly folk-influenced; the other an Art Nouveau impressionist.
Rob Barnett

see also a review of this recording and an article on William Baines by John France

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