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Jigs, Airs and Reels
Franz REIZENSTEIN (1911 – 1968)

Partita Op.13 (1939, arr. 1953)
John JEFFREYS (b. 1927)

Prelude and Jig for John Turner (2000, rev. 2001)
Malcolm ARNOLD (b. 1921)

Fantasy Op.140 (1991)
William Lewarne HARRIS (b. 1929)

Quintet (2002)
Robin WALKER (b. 1953)

Dances from The Bells of Blue Island (2001, rev. 2003)
Edward GREGSON (b. 1945)

Romance (1964, rev. 2003)
Philip COWLIN (b. 1920)

Concertino (2003)
Ernest TOMLINSON (b. 1924)

Chadkirk Idyll (2002, rev. 2003)
John VEALE (b. 1922)

Triptych (2003)
John Turner (recorder); Camerata Ensemble
Recorded: Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester University, September 2003
CAMPION CAMEO 2034 [76:59]

 

John Turner is an untiring explorer of the 20th Century repertoire for recorder, which he has steadily recorded over the last years. The present release is yet another well-planned selection of fairly recent works for recorder, most of which were written for him. Franz Reizenstein’s Partita Op.13, however, is a much earlier work composed in 1939 for Carl Dolmetsch. It was originally written for recorder and piano (the original version is available on BMS 425CD). In 1953, he arranged the piece for recorder and string trio, which is the version heard here. This is a fine, well-crafted Neo-Classical suite of dances of great charm. Anyone acquainted with John Jeffreys’ music will know what to expect of his lovely Prelude and Jog for John Turner, originally for recorder and piano, and heard here in the version with string quartet made in 2001. This delightful piece clearly reflects Jeffreys’ affinity with the so-called English pastoral school and is often redolent of Finzi. With the exception of the Recorder Sonatina Op.41 composed in 1953 (but often played on the flute rather than the recorder), Malcolm Arnold’s works for recorder date from the last years of his composing career and all three are – in one way or another – connected with the Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri who recorded the Fantasy for Solo Recorder Op.127 (1987) and the Recorder Concerto Op.133 (1988) for RCA. The Fantasy Op.140 for recorder and string quartet is actually a set of variations of quite contrasted character, and clearly belongs to what may be described as Arnold’s last period in which his music became more elusive, often enigmatic, at times sardonic, but always extraordinarily well written for the instrument. The Fantasy Op.140, however, is a very fine work, and a most welcome addition to his abundant discography. William Lewarne Harris is a name new to me, I confess, and I was particularly delighted to be introduced to his music through his beautiful Quintet from 2002. The work is in five sections roughly connected to the sea (in Cornwall and Brittany) : the second movement The Vision on the Shore is clear enough in this respect, whereas the third movement is a Scherzo Diabolique alluding to a place in Cornwall, a crossroad between Penzance and Sennen where a witch was hanged (or, at least, so they say). The fourth section Notre Dame des Naufragés brings us to Brittany. The final movement is a set of five variations on the theme heard at the outset of the first section, ending in a rather pensive mood. A most welcome rarity indeed. Robin Walker’s Dances from "The Bells of Blue Island" originated as interludes between the scene of his eponymous chamber opera completed in 2001. In 2003, he arranged them for recorder, violin and cello. The various lively dances, often of folk-like flavour, are framed by an Irish tune which everyone, I think, will recognise as that heard in Simple Minds’ Belfast Child. This is a delightfully entertaining score. Philip Cowlin, too, is new to me. His Concertino of 2003 is exactly that, i.e. a miniature concerto in the traditional fast-slow-fast mould, including a short cadenza near the end of the slow movement. The music is again quite engaging and accessible, and never outstays its welcome. Gregson’s Romance is an early work composed in 1964 for clarinet and piano, that he re-worked and revised for John Turner. This is, as one might expect, a lovely song-like, simple and attractive piece that works particularly well in the present version. Tomlinson is well-known as a composer of excellent and superbly crafted light music. Originally for recorder and guitar, Chadkirk Idyll is a beautifully atmospheric miniature tone poem. The version with string quartet heard here was made in 2002. Although his Violin Concerto has now been recorded, John Veale is still a much underrated composer whose music clearly deserves wider exposure. It is to be hoped that this recording of his fine Triptych of 2003 will help re-kindle interest in his output. This lovely piece, too, might be described as a set of variations since each of the three sections is based on the same two themes heard at the outset.

Needless to say that all these pieces get sterling performances from John Turner and his colleagues of the Camerata Ensemble. This hugely entertaining release is yet another feather in John’s cap, and I urge you to get it. You will surely enjoy it as much as I did.

Hubert Culot

 



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