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David WYNNE (1900-1983)
Piano Sonata No. 2 (1957) [14:26]
String Quartet No. 3 (1966) [19:33]
Ian PARROTT (b.1916)

String Quartet No. 4 (1963) [15:35]
David HARRIES (1933-2003)

Piano Quintet Op. 20 (1964) [12:55]
Eric Harrison (piano); Alfredo Wang (violin); James Barton (violin); Frederick Riddle (viola); George Isaac (cello)
rec. March 1971, Decca Studio No. 3, West Hampstead, London. ADD
recorded under auspices of Welsh Arts Council
LYRITA SRCD.284 [58:19]

Experience Classicsonline


The four works here are old favourites from a cobwebbed corner of the Lyrita catalogue. All appeared on LP SRCS52. The unifying theme - if you really must have one - is that all three are Welsh composers by birth and or blood. The chamber works included are from the 1960s.

Wynne held various teaching posts in Wales. His music made an impact when his String Quartet No. 1 came out in 1945. He was championed by Michael Tippett. His influences include Schoenberg and Bartók. The worklist is substantial and includes four symphonies (1952, 1955, 1963, 1983), the fourth being incomplete. There are also five string quartets and various sonatas including five piano sonatas.

Wynne's Second Piano Sonata is in three movements. It is dedicated to and was premiered by Eiluned Davies - who recorded the piano music of Bernard van Dieren for the British Music Society - only ever issued on cassette. The composer's description of the music is right on the money – "basically modal with atonal overtones". Parts of it are quite velvety but the finale has a jazzy Bartókian muscular ebullience. Wynne's Third Quartet is in one atonal movement. It is tough going - more obdurate than the sonata.

The music of Ian Parrott will reveal itself in years to come as that of an imaginative master. His compact Fourth Quartet is in five little movements. They are here distinctly tracked which makes study that much easier. The most instantly memorable movement is the impulsive torrent of the Allegro con fuoco. The other movements are hauntingly done in an idiom tiptoeing along the DMZ between tonality and atonality. It is the most approachable of the works here. The light-handed seriousness of the final catchy and skipping epilogue sounds a little like Rózsa and a little like Tippett. The work ends with resonance and resin.

Parrott who studied privately with Benjamin Dale has written five symphonies (1946, 1960, 1966, 1978, 1979) and concertos for violin (1945), piano (1945), cor anglais (1956) and cello (1961) not to mention ones for trombone and wind band (1967) and a concertino for two guitars and chamber orchestra (1973). Amid a tightly thronged catalogue there are also five string quartets: 1946, 1956, 1957, 1963, 1994. He also has books to his credit on Elgar, Warlock and Cyril Scott.

The parents of Portsmouth-born David Harries were Welsh. He made his home in Wales. There are two string quartets, a symphony, a piano concerto, a clarinet quintet and two piano sonatas. This succinct three movement Piano Quintet is said to share its world with the Violin Concerto written in the same year. The music is fundamentally tonal but with a 12 note spin. The music moves between syncopated angularity and velveteen disconsolate musing - try the central Lento.

Paul Conway does the honours with a lucid and detailed liner-note. As usual the only hard information in this review is shamelessly drawn from Mr Conway's writings.

A challenging but not unappetising collection of Welsh music from the 1960s.

Rob Barnett

Also Available

SRCD.302 Frank Bridge String Quartets Nos. 3 and 4
SRCD.2271 John Ireland Chamber Music




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