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Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979)
Piano Trio (1921) [23:15]
Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918)
D’un soir triste, pièce en trio (1918) [11:44]
D’un matin de printemps, pièce en trio (1918) [4:46]
Amy BEACH (1867-1944)
Piano Trio, Op.150 (1938) [14:17]
June, for voice, violin and piano, Op.51 No.3 (1903) [2:20]
A Mirage, for voice, violin and piano, Op.100 No.1 (1903) [3:22]
Stella viatoris, for voice, violin and piano, Op.100 No.2 (1903) [4:17]
Chanson d’amour, for voice, violin and piano, Op.21 No.1 (1893) [5:09]
Trio des Alpes
Lorna Windsor (soprano)
Texts included
rec. 2014, Radiostudio, Zurich
DYNAMIC CDS7717 [69:30]

Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio of 1921 is very much a War work. It took second place – she was a perennial runner-up – in the Coolidge Competition won, somewhat ironically, by her fellow English executant-composer, Harry Waldo Warner, violist of the London String Quartet. In passing it would be good to think that someone was planning a disc of Warner’s chamber music, which was popular in the inter-war years but has completely faded from hearing. Clarke’s Trio received its first London performance from Myra Hess, Marjorie Hayward and cellist May Mukle, the last named one of the more adventurous and intriguing figures of the time. The work is complexly structured in long paragraphs, owing something to Bloch – Clarke famously came second to Bloch in the Coolidge competition with her Viola Sonata – and also a little to late Debussy. The bugle calls on the piano are well played here, and the sensitively shaped slow movement too, with bell chimes and a pervasive melancholia, a keening recall. The modal and chromatic elements that function so well in this piece are also well attended to, and the finale – where folkloric, cyclic elements reveal themselves – is commendably realised. The return of the bugle calls brings a lament as the music winds down, quietening its more excitable qualities and bringing a deeper note of sadness in.

Lili Boulanger’s two pieces were both composed in the year of her death, 1918. The diptych consists of a slow opening work, quietly hypnotic with the piano line frequently determining the temper of the music, and then a shorter, fast spring piece, very vitalising indeed. The third composer represented is Amy Beach, whose Trio was composed in 1938. The Debussy influence tinges this trio too, but the elements are not as well integrated as they are in the Clarke. Late Romanticism is a more pervasive influence, as well as songful lyricism in the slow movement. The four songs, sung by Lorna Windsor skirt salon sentiment in June but prove fulsome in the quite florid Stella viatoris, and at their romantic apogee in Chanson d’amour, by some way the earliest of these vocal settings.

These perceptive performances have been nicely recorded, though the documentation is somewhat thin; at least texts are included. There are rival interpretations and in the case of the Clarke Trio I’d suggest the Martin Roscoe-Andrew Watkinson-David Waterman performance on ASV DCA932 coupled as it is with Beach’s Piano Quintet, though on Gamut GAM 518 the Hartley Trio team the Clarke more logically with works by Frank Bridge and John Ireland.

Some may object to this all-women disc for that very reason but it is very competently played.

Jonathan Woolf



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