JOHN FOULDS (1880-1939)
Works for string quartet
Quartetto Intimo (1935) 32.32
Quartetto Geniale (1935) 7.33
rec St Peter's, Notting Hill Gate, 25/26 July
PEARL SHE CD 9564
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
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.