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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

 


It was canny of Richard Itter to acquire a stack of 1960s and 1970s stereo tapes. Many of these were first issued on Decca and Argo LPs and then sank from sight after a brief ‘after-life’ on Farringdon Records’ mailing lists. Sound-wise the present collection of British Council tapes have come up fresh as new mint. Although much of this music has been recorded afresh it is a delight to hear these vigorous documents of the last two decades of the LP. To hear them in sound better that the petroleum-derived originals is a great bonus.

Berkeley's little Sonatina is an austere war-time work lightened by a romantic touch from Hugh Bean's violin. Even so in the first movement a violence or brusqueness can be heard – a mark of the times. Ten years later came the Sextet - a fastidious and sturdy work with Parisian leanings. There’s also some carefully controlled charm; a tight rein is held on the emotions. Berkeley's style in the 1930s and 1940s was far more yielding and romantic - witness the neglected Cello Concerto. By the 1950s things had tightened: charm and craftsmanship alone cannot always guarantee a wish to revisit music. Try the rather uptight Lento. Fascinating stuff anyway but, depending on your taste, the emotional core can be opaque or distant.

The music of Alan Bush is deeply serious even when he smiles. After the earnest angry glittering Moto Perpetuo of the Three Concert Studies for Piano Trio comes the long and musingly chaste Lento. This develops an emotional engagement close to romance all achieved through language that casts sloe-eyes towards Tippett. The final Alla Bulgara with its zingharese sway and bucolic pizzicato, is a lovely piece. Well worth getting to know. If there were any justice (yes, I know) it would show up as a regular on Classic FM. No doubt the Bulgarian movement ties in with Bush's blended commitment to communism and folk voices.

The next four tracks have Bush himself as the pianist. The Cruel Sea Captain is the first of two Sea Ballads and is dedicated to his teacher John Ireland whose chordal signature can be heard here. It’s always Bush's angular sentiment applied to British folk material. The 1960 Suite is represented here by a Warlockian Galliard with a dusting of mild Bushian dissonance. It contrasts with the reflectively romantic and gentle pastoral that is the Air. Finally from Bush comes a stern dance piece of a type he first encountered while researching for his wonderful opera Guyana Johnny in British Guyana. The Kwe-Kwe is a sort of wedding dance and in it we hear a persistent rhythmic pattern or undertow rising to a determined and scrunching angularity.

Rawsthorne's 1948 Clarinet Quartet veers between stolid emotionally curtailed reflection to acerbic urgency and strained pastoral elegy.

Like the Gerhard disc (SRCD.274) this is also graced with liner notes by Paul Conway.

A valuable if predominantly stern collection of chamber music and solo piano pieces in exemplary performances and recordings rescued from vinyl oblivion.

Rob Barnett

Also Available
SRCD.249 Lennox Berkeley Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 LPO / Norman del Mar/Nicholas Braithwaite
SRCD.252 Geoffrey Bush Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 LPO / Nicholas Braithwaite/Barry Wordsworth
SRCD.291 Alan Rawsthorne Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 & 3 LPO / BBC SO / Sir John Pritchard / Nicholas Braithwaite/Norman del Mar

 

 

 


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