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