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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]

The Moeran selection comes from pre-decimal coinage days; the Baines a touch after. They both sound splendid in Lyrita’s accustomedly fine restorations and they both restore to the catalogue performances of great refinement and finesse. Eric Parkin is something of a hero of the British piano repertoire and a brand name for excellence. Here, in the case of the Baines, he was chartering unknown waters on disc and he did so in a way that alerted one to a then pretty much unknown composer.

The rhythmic hypnosis generated by Labyrinth (from Silverpoints) is a tremendous start to the recital. It helps that this suite, though not necessarily considered Baines’ finest, is so varied and absorbing. Water-Pearls for instance is a felicitous waltz animated by a nagging left hand figure. And the Burning Joss-Stick is chordally more opulent and declamatory. The flowing lyricism of Paradise Gardens - richly infused with generous runs – is another little gem though the recorded sound is just a touch brittle, especially in the treble. Coloured Leaves is a suite of four pieces; the first is a touch effortful whilst the second is conversationally jaunty. The third, Still Day, has some rolling left hand whilst the last, Purple Heights indeed reaches some purplish romantic peaks – urgent, tugging and passionate.

Baines was good, despite his youth, at ruminatively introspective pictures – try the Twilight Pieces, which are suggestive and limpid. And the last of this group of three, A Pause for Thought - he wasn’t scared of down-to-eath titles either – reminds one a little of the hypnotic allure of Labyrinth. The powerful unleashing of titan chords leads to a powerfully, almost extrovert gloom in The Lone Wreck, one of the two pieces that make up Tides. The other is perhaps his best-known piece, Goodnight to Flamboro’, the passionate ebb and flow of which never loses its siren call.

Then there are the Seven Preludes which wear their inspirations passionately; Russian in the main. But the third is a little gem, a rapt song hinting at the salon. The fourth is like Scriabin filtered through French Impressionism, and the last deeply ingrained in Rachmaninoff and full of energy and tensile romanticism.

Parkin has since returned to Baines on Priory – a disc I’ve been aware of but have never heard. [PRCD550 The Chimes. Paradise Gardens. Seven Preludes. Coloured Leaves. Silverpoints. Idyll - Nocturne. Tides. The Naiad. Etude in F sharp minor.]

In this Lyrita disc we also find a selection of pieces by Moeran. Stalham River is probably his piano masterpiece – a slice of becalmed impressionism, immensely and infectiously attractive and also reminiscent of John Ireland. The White Mountain may be better known as The Star of the County Down – and you’ll know that from John McCormack ("Such a coaxing elf, I was ashamed of meself/For to see I was really there…"). Beautifully played by Parkin. The left hand folk melody in the Toccata is warmly brought out and there’s Celtic pensiveness a-plenty in the innocent-sounding Berceuse. Bank Holiday (1925) is suitably up-tempo and jaunty. The Two Legends – legends of course were central to John Ireland’s imagination - are rich and evocative.

As with the Baines Parkin has returned to Moeran more recently on Ismeron – another disc I’ve been meaning to hear. For the record he plays Three Piano Pieces (1919): The Lake Island, Autumn Woods, At a Horse Fair. On a May Morning. Three Fancies (1922): Windmills, Elegy, Burlesque. Two Legends (1923): A Folk Story, Rune. Theme and Variations. Stalham River. Toccata. Irish Love Song. Summer Valley. The White Mountain. Two Pieces (1933): Prelude, Berceuse and Bank Holiday [JMSCD2].

The notes are excellent; Peter Pirie writes on Moeran, and his biographer Roger Carpenter tells us, eloquently, all we need to know about Baines. Rich and evocative music, splendidly preformed and presented.

Jonathan Woolf

See also reviews ny Robert Farr and Rob Barnett



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