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British Music for Piano Duet
Lord BERNERS (1883-1950)
Valses Bourgeoises (1919) [7:25]
Constant LAMBERT (1905-1951)
Overture (1925) ed Philip Lane [3:26]
Trois pièces nègres pour les touches blanches (1949) [10:04]
Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1951)
The Creel (1941) [4:18]
William WALTON (1902-1983)
11 Duets for Children (1940) [15:01]
Philip LANE (b.1950)
Badinages (1969) [10:45]
John JOUBERT (b.1927)
Divertimento, Op.2 (1951) [9:29]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)
Three English Dances, Op.11 (1910) [7:24]
Anthony HEDGES (b.1931)
Four Concert Duos, Op.121 (1992) [6:12]
Thomas PITFIELD (1903-1999)
Kitchenmaid’s Dance, from Maid of Hearts (1954) [2:41]
Dance of the Wedding Guests, from The Rejected Pieman (1937) [1:47]
Peter Lawson, Alan MacLean, Gavin Sutherland (piano)
rec. 1994, Princess Hall of The Cheltenham Ladies College (Berners to Lane); 2015, Prince Michael Hall, Dean Close School, Cheltenham (remainder)

Part of this disc is a reissue – the Berners to Lane component, as one runs down the track listing, recorded back in 1994 – whilst the remainder is from a much more recent session at a different location (but in the same town), set down in 2015. The earlier disc was on Albany Troy 142 and called English Music for Piano Duet but the Berners Fantaisie espagnole and Trois morceaux are not present on this reissue so that may have a small bearing on matters.

Alan MacLean and Peter Lawson served up a fresh-minted recital back in the ample acoustic of Princess Hall, Cheltenham. Berners’s wise-aleck Rosenkavalier quotations in Valse Bourgeoises’ finale, Strauss, Strauss, et Straus, still hit the mark. Constant Lambert’s Overture, scored for orchestra was used as the finale for the film Adam and Eve, which then became Romeo and Juliet whereupon it was promptly dropped. Edited by Philip Lane it works very well and clearly in this duet context. Trois pièces nègres pour les touches blanches are as rhythmically lively and evocative as always, not least the beautiful central Siesta movement and the sunny Latin American vitality of the Nocturne finale. Rawsthorne’s piscatorial studies – brilliantly slim and trim – offer scampering as well as stately themes whereas Walton’s rather seldom-encountered Duets for Children, composed in 1940, are deft teaching etudes with rather Schumannesque titles. Philip Lane’s Badinages of 1969 offers directly Francophile fare; Satie-like in places, or suggesting more insouciant Poulenc-inspired gestures.

The new component of this disc sees MacLean joined by Gavin Sutherland, a familiar figure in British lighter music. Together they show that John Joubert’s Divertimento, though composed whilst he was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London, has real quality – brief though it is, it’s full of vibrancy and colour. Then there’s the unassuming, unruffled ease of Quilter’s Three English Dances, the witty rhythms encoded in Anthony Hedges’ Four Cornish Duos, composed in 1992, and to finish two pieces by Thomas Pitfield. These derive from ballet scores and were arranged by the composer. They offer suitably high spirits to end this bipartite recital.

Jonathan Woolf

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