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Shine and Shade: English Twentieth Century Recorder Music
Norman FULTON (1909-1980) Scottish Suite (Prelude - Air - Musette - Nocturne - Reel) (1954) [12:57]
Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) Meditazione Sopra Coeurs Désolés [5:38]
York BOWEN (1884-1961) Sonata Op.121 (Moderato e semplice - Andante tranquillo - Allegro giocoso) [13:19]
Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Sonatina (Moderato - Adagio - Allegro moderato) [9:38]
Edward GREGSON (b.1945) Three Matisse Impressions (Pastoral; Luxe, Calme et Volupté; The Dance) [9:38]
Stephen DODGSON (b.1924) Shine and Shade [9:22]
Donald SWANN (1923-1994) Rhapsody from Within (Molto movimento - Rhapsodico - Ritmico) [8:25]
Piers Adams (recorders); Julian Rhodes (piano)
rec. St Peter’s Church, Bexhill-on-Sea, October 1993
RED PRIEST RP010 [69:47]

Experience Classicsonline

This is the latest in reissues on the Red Priest label. It was recorded two decades ago and originally released on Upbeat Recordings. It also features the original keyboard player in Red Priest, the tragically short-lived Julian Rhodes (1964-2001).
As well as his interest in baroque music, recorder player Piers Adams has explored twentieth-century repertoire, and indeed beyond. Here he concentrates with Rhodes on British recorder music - with the exception of the Lennox Berkeley, which was written in 1939 - from the second half of the twentieth century.
Norman Fulton wrote his Scottish Suite for Carl Dolmetsch in 1954.There is some picture postcard piquancy here, not least little crunchy harmonies, that keep things alive. Oscillation between fast and slow sections, and high lying registrations, provide opportunities for both technical and expressive variety. Romantic rolled piano chords heighten the warmth, whilst Fulton ensures we go home happy with a very jolly Reel.
Rubbra could do zip as well; in his Second Violin Sonata he almost gets frisky. But there’s no friskiness in the spiritually elevated Meditazione Sopra Coeurs Désolés, a richly unfolding series of variations composed in 1949. One sonata in the repertoire of nearly all British recorder players is York Bowen’s Op.121 of 1946. This is because of its especially fresh character, its communicative and uncomplicated romanticism, its well characterised three movements and its air of frolicsome agility, none of which qualities relies on showiness to make its point.
Berkeley’s terse Sonata essays an altogether different feeling. Here, characteristically French-sounding fluidity is accompanied by a restless tension, which reaches a forlorn, almost drained peak in the slow movement. The finale is Poulenc-like and brief. Edward Gregson’s1993 Matisse Impressions offer vivid opportunities for the players: musing, reflective cadential qualities in the first and stabbing piano writing in the third in particular. Stephen Dodgson wrote Shine and Shade, which gives its name to this disc, in 1975 and his craftsmanship is never in doubt, nor indeed is the stylistically apt material. Donald Swann’s 1982 Rhapsody from Within was written for Dolmetsch to play with his long-time colleague Joseph Saxby. It’s a delightful, light and uncomplicated affair, lyrical, filmic in the central panel, and with a peppy 1930s feel in the finale.
It ends a winning recital, performed with brio and technical assurance and captured in good sound. It’s certainly a recital worthy of restoration.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by John France

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