Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

JOHN FOULDS (1880-1939)
Works for string quartet
Quartetto Intimo
(1935) 32.32
Quartetto Geniale (1935) 7.33
Aquarelles (1921) 12.51
Endellion Quartet
rec St Peter's, Notting Hill Gate, 25/26 July 1981
PEARL SHE CD 9564 [53.39]

John Foulds is one of the enigmas of British music. At one stage phenomenally successful with his Keltic Lament and World Requiem (the latter in the loss-stricken wake of the Great War) he suffered an engulfing recession and died in neglect in India in the 1930s.

It was through the continuing efforts of Malcolm Macdonald that his star is in the ascendant and has been since the late 1970s. In recent years we have had a record of piano music (Kathryn Stott) from BIS and a promised orchestral selection (conductedby CBSO chief, Oramo Sakari) from the Finnish company, ODE. Sakari will be giving the Three Mantras as part of the CBSO season in 2000/2001 (they werein the Proms in 1999 conducted by Barry Wordsworth). There are, of course, two Lyrita orchestral collections and an Altarus CD.

This fabulous Pearl disc was amongst the first fruit of the Foulds revival and was madewith funding from the RVW Trust and in association with the British Music Society. The Intimo is the major work. Its springy, hyper-ventilated lyricism and seething lustrous melos are staggering. The music has the fierce carressing complexity and feral onslaught of Villa-Lobos's quartets. The glorious broad tune of the lento second movement is followed by a third movement of dynamic activity with dies irae in the pizzicato. The fourth (of five) movements is a seething torrent ending on a high harmonic.

The lento quieto from Quartetto Geniale is suggestive of brooding antiquity with a splash of Bach-like purity.

The Aquarelles encompass: Beethovenian cheeriness, a soliloquising serenade (like Finzi's Introit), hints of the Wicca music in Warlock's Curlew, a touch of the salon and finally a stately English carousel dance.

Intimo is one of the core works of the 1930s - valid on an international stage and written by a composer at the giddy height of his prowess.

A must-have disc.

Rob Barnett

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