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Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989)
Sonatina for Violin and Piano Op. 17 (1943) [14:01]
Sextet for Clarinet, Horn and String Quartet Op. 47 (1954) [14:32]*
Alan BUSH (1900-1995)

Three Concert Studies for Piano Trio Op. 31 (1947) [16:08]
The Cruel Sea Captain, from Two Ballads of the Sea Op. 50 (1957) [2:29]
Galiard, from Suite Op. 54 (1960) [1:01]
Air, from Suite Op. 54 (1960) [2:45]
Corentyne Kwe-Kwe Op. 75 (1972) [5:02]
Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971)

Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello (1948) [17:05]**
The Music Group of London (Hugh Bean (violin); Eileen Croxford (cello); David Parkhouse (piano)); Frances Routh (violin)*; Christopher Wellington (viola)*; Jack Brymer (clarinet)*; Alan Civil (horn)*; ** Members of the Aeolian Quartet: Sydney Humphreys (violin); Margaret Major (viola); Derek Simpson (cello); Thea King (clarinet)
rec. London, 1970-74. ADD
originally released on LP as ZRG 749 (1974) (Berkeley; Bush); ZRG 660, (1970) (Rawsthorne);
LYRITA SRCD.256 [73:08]

Experience Classicsonline


These three English composers were born within the five years between 1900 (Bush) and 1905 (Rawsthorne) with Berkeley sandwiched in the middle in 1903. They make appropriate disc mates in these LP derived performances sourced from that august ZRG series of golden memory.

Berkeley’s Violin Sonatina offers three movements of treasurable reward. Its opening is lit with lissom lyricism which is undercut by a jagged and unsettled counterblast, a recurring feature of an unsettled first movement. The aloof melancholy of this wartime work’s slow movement is followed by a theme and variations, which include a quizzical waltz. The Bean-Parkhouse duo – how one misses such players as Hugh Bean, Alan Loveday (still with us but not playing), Fred Grinke and David Martin - plays with just the right amount of warmth. Berkeley’s Sextet followed in 1954. It’s very well written, finely distributed in terms of colour and constructed in modified sonata form. As ever with him there’s a recognisable French influence – a touch of hauteur and Gallic wit in the first movement certainly. The slow movement opens with a keening fugue – again like the opening of the Violin Sonatina and so much of Berkeley’s writing, unsettled and provisional in tone. The finale though is keen, expert and increasingly exuberant.

Bush’s Three Concert Studies date from 1947, roughly bisecting therefore the two Berkeleys chronologically. The first is taut, tight, tense and Slavic. The second is almost over-compensatory in its expressive sweep whilst the finale, Alla Bulgara, is evocative and sinuously attractive and as unexpected as the finale of Rubbra’s Second Violin Sonata where the cape and sash suddenly appear out of nowhere. There are some very pleasing little things as well from Bush. The Cruel Sea Captain, from Two Ballads of the Sea was dedicated to John Ireland – spiced up folk music. There’s a lovely Galliard and a supple lyric Air from the Op.54 Suite. Corentyne Kwe-Kwe is exuberant and dynamic. These piano pieces are all played by the composer.

Finally we turn to Rawsthorne’s Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello of 1948. This is a work by turns pawky, stark, pensive, quizzical, assertive and rugged – not least the decidedly rugged dance rhythms that animate the finale. It’s expertly crafted but doesn’t aim to ingratiate.

Fine notes and unproblematic transfers enhance a collection played by some of the elite players of the day.

Jonathan Woolf





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