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William HURLSTONE (1876-1906)
CD 1 [46:50]
Piano Concerto in D (1902) [25:17]
Fantasie-Variations on a Swedish Air (1904) [21:30]
Eric Parkin (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
CD 2 [53:47]
Piano Trio in G (1905) [27:18]
Piano Quartet in E minor Op. 43 (1904) [26:25]
Tunnell Piano Quartet: (John Tunnell (violin); Kenneth Essex (viola); Charles Tunnell (cello); Susan Tunnell (piano))
rec. August 1976, Kingsway Hall, London (CD1); August 1978, Smith Square, London (CD2). ADD
First issued on LP as SRCS100 Piano Concerto; Fantasie-Variations on a Swedish Air; SRCS117 Piano Trio; Piano Quartet.
LYRITA SRCD2286 [46:50 + 53:47]

Experience Classicsonline


Sir Charles Villiers Stanford named William Yeates Hurlstone his best student at the Royal College of Music - even though Hurlstone’s fellow pupils included Holst, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Coleridge-Taylor, Dunhill and Bridge! Even so it is entirely typical that Hurlstone’s name – like those of so many other excellent British composers – should be one generally unfamiliar to us.

The Piano Concerto, which opens this two-disc set, was given its premiere at the Royal College of Music when Hurlstone was only 19, and he performed it himself on several occasions. The first movement has an elegant, sedate, almost courtly opening, becoming more impassioned and romantic as the piano enters and becomes increasingly involved in the music. The second movement scherzo is a lovely blend of classical poise and intense romantic lyricism, while the third movement opens with a long dramatic piano soliloquy. An excellent piece, well worth hearing, particularly given the sensitive performance by Eric Parkin and splendid accompaniment by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, under Nicholas Braithwaite.

The Fantasie-Variations is considered to be one of Hurlstone’s best works. It was dedicated to Captain Beaumont, his friend and benefactor, and dates from 1903. The Swedish tune upon which the variations are based is "De rosor, och den blader de gora mig sa glader" ("The roses, the leaves, they make me so happy") from Henry Chorley’s book of National Music. A slightly quirky work, it has an arresting and striking opening, and is, overall, a rather fascinating, well constructed, strong piece. It is here given an excellent performance by the London Philharmonic who manage to offer the listener everything from gossamer delicacy through to full-blooded passion. (see also Colin Clarke’s review of the other Hurlstone variations disc on Lyrita)

A pianist himself, Hurlstone wrote a fair amount of music for piano, including his published op. 1 – Five Easy Waltzes – composed when he was just nine! Amongst other works, he composed sonatas for piano, and for other instruments with piano accompaniments, as well as duets and trios. The Piano Trio in G minor was also dedicated to Captain Beaumont and was probably composed after the Piano Quartet in about 1905. It is a well-crafted and thoroughly enjoyable work, with a high-spirited first movement, a lyrical second, and a lively fourth and final movement, with its use of a traditional Scottish tune (Hurlstone’s grandmother was Scottish), and a flamboyant ending. The Tunnell Quartet give an exhilarating performance of both this and of the ensuing Piano Quartet, which had its premiere performance in 1904 at the Aeolian Hall, with Hurlstone himself at the piano. The Quartet is a rather virtuosic work, here given a superb performance which makes the perfect conclusion to a splendid two-disc set.

Em Marshall

See also review by Rob Barnett





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