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William HURLSTONE (1876-1906)
CD 1 [46:50]
Piano Concerto in D (1902) [25:17]
Fantasie-Variations on a Swedish Air (1904) [21:30]
Eric Parkin (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
CD 2 [53:47]
Piano Trio in G (1905) [27:18]
Piano Quartet in E minor Op. 43 (1904) [26:25]
Tunnell Piano Quartet: (John Tunnell (violin); Kenneth Essex (viola); Charles Tunnell (cello); Susan Tunnell (piano))
rec. August 1976, Kingsway Hall, London (CD1); August 1978, Smith Square, London (CD2). ADD
First issued on LP as SRCS100 Piano Concerto; Fantasie-Variations on a Swedish Air; SRCS117 Piano Trio; Piano Quartet.
LYRITA SRCD.2286 [46:50 + 53:47]

For Lyrita there's a larger than usual infusion of dissonance in their September 2007 releases. After Crosse, Hoddinott and Richard Rodney Bennett we return to the Lyrita heartland with Hurlstone.

This disc has been a long time in the coming. Our appetite was stirred as long ago as 1992 when Lyrita issued a CD of three of his orchestral scores. Here now are two each orchestral and chamber scores reproducing two LPs from the late 1970s.

The Piano Concerto is in three movements. The first of these is warmly optimistic in a singing romantic vein lying between Brahms 2, Schumann and even Rachmaninov. A skipping scherzo partakes of Brahms 2 (scherzo) and Mendelssohn - even a work not then written - Saint-Saëns 2. The third movement is really a bipartite structure with a moodily mercurial brief Adagio rising to a carefree Allegro commodo e grazioso. This is despatched in sprightly fashion by Eric Parkin who does not lose the references to lightness and contrasting storm - Grieg and Rachmaninov must have been models.

The Fantasie Variations on a Swedish Air (De rosor, och den blaeder de gora mig so glader) are in a single span. This time the cloud of witnesses includes the Brahms Fourth Symphony in all its storm and in fugal splendour. There's some tawnily regal writing for the brass at 10:47 onwards. Hearing this extremely fine work reminds me that we still await the recording premiere of Thomas Dunhill's Elegiac Variations. Dunhill’s only symphony appears from Dutton imminently.

For disc 2 we turn from orchestral splendours to a more intimate idiom: two big four-movement chamber works. Each is longer than the orchestral works on disc 1.

The Piano Trio in G has a lilting Brahmsian embrace with an affectingly sentimental Andante which serves as a prelude to a springheel Dvořákian Molto vivace and an uncloudedly happy Allegro comodo.

The Piano Quartet is somehow more sturdy and has a stormy masculine signature with a style that looks forward somewhat to Howells' Piano Quartet. The third movement vivace has a determined Beethovenian air. The finale rather like that of the piano concerto is diptychal starting with a Lento and evolving into an Allegro Giocoso. The solo violin that sings out at 00:43 again looks forward to the more complex pastoral-mysticism of Howells before developing a sanguine skippingly jocose character with its surge and swell.

The helpful notes for the orchestral disc are by the composer the late Harold Truscott who did so much for Brian, Bantock, Holbrooke, Ashton and Hurlstone. A shame that his own music is so little heeded. Try the Marco Polo disc of one of his symphonies. The equally helpful notes for the chamber disc here are by Michael Pope.

The piano rings out with bell-like clarity but the string writing has some analogue reserve in the case of the chamber works.

Hurlstone is essential listening if you want to get a handle on the pre-Great War generation between Stanford and Butterworth. Lovely performances and fine recordings all well documented just as we have come to expect from Lyrita.

Rob Barnett

Also Available

SRCD.208 William Hurlstone Variations on an Original Theme, Magic Mirror etc

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