Last year I had cause to complain bitterly about the presentation of
another Navona release featuring the music of Alejandro Rutty, where
no sleeve-notes at all were provided and one had to download the booklet
from the CD using a computer. I pointed out that was extremely user-unfriendly
and did no favours whatsoever to the composer’s inevitably totally
unfamiliar music. My complaints obviously fell on totally deaf ears,
because here again Navona provide no booklet or information at all about
the scores, the composer or the performances included on this CD - and
yet again this must militate against any sort of recommendation for
the disc unless the listener is exceptionally dedicated. As before,
putting the CD into a computer promptly brings up an audio track; it
requires some additional exploration to find the booklet, which is extremely
print heavy with no fewer than 38 pages all in elaborately designed
full colour. It took quite some time even to ascertain the dates when
the works were written, because each page had to be opened separately.
I could find nothing in the booklet at all to explain the presence of
the suite arranged for brass quintet from Porgy and Bess
I may simply have been looking in the wrong place. No, this is simply
not good enough.
The solo advantage of this quite extraordinary procedure is that it
enables the listener to download copies of the scores by David Nisbet
Stewart; but in order to open these files one has to view each page
individually, and then the scores are not labelled on the disc other than as
“Score 1”, “Score 2” and so on, which hardly helps
one to find one’s way around. Again I could find nothing to explain
the presence of the Gershwin item on the CD. There are also some extras such
as ringtones, which add absolutely nothing to the attractions of the disc.
The music itself is attractive enough, but not sufficiently so to
propel me into the trouble and expense of printing off the booklet or
scores. I could find no details whatsoever regarding the performers on the
disc, although the composer’s notes especially on the Piano
are pretty comprehensive and come complete with music examples.
Both the concerto and the Piano-brass quartet
(only three brass
instruments, making four in all) are quite enjoyable and approachable in
musical terms, and are extremely well performed.
The odd inclusion of the Gershwin arrangements is particularly
peculiar because of the nature of the arrangements themselves. The first
track is described as Overture
, but it is not the overture that
Gershwin wrote, rapidly moving from the opening bars of the opera into a
sort of pot-pourri of various ‘hit’ tunes. The players sometimes
play the music straight, and sometimes jazz it up a bit, but apart from the
fact that the track containing Bess, you is my woman now
as “(arr. Lube)” the basis for the selection and its arrangement
remains a mystery. Far be it from me to suggest that the inclusion of a
performance recorded nearly twenty years earlier than the rest was motivated
solely by a desire to compensate for what would otherwise have been
extremely niggardly playing time, but it does give that impression.
I am sorry to be so churlish about a serious attempt to place before
the public the music of a composer who deserves rather better presentation,
but as in the case of the Rutty disc which I reviewed last year the company
should seriously reconsider the manner in which their discs are set before
the public. It is bad enough, although more understandable, having to
download and print texts for operas and vocal music, but I really hope that
sort of thing doesn’t catch on.
Paul Corfield Godfrey