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Fantasising - Chamber Music from Wales
Ian PARROTT Fantasising on a Welsh Tune for recorder, oboe, bassoon and piano
Peter CROSSLEY-HOLLAND Andante for bassoon and piano
Alun HODDINOTT Lizard Variations op. 166/2 for solo recorder
Ian PARROTT Rondo Giocoso for bassoon and piano
William MATHIAS Concertino op. 65 for recorder, oboe, bassoon and harpsichord
Ian PARROTT Autumn Landscape for oboe and piano
Ian PARROTT Devil’s Bridge Jaunt for bassoon and piano
Jeffrey LEWIS Risoluto for recorder, oboe, bassoon and piano
Ian PARROTT Portraits for recorder and piano
John Turner (recorder)
Richard Simpson (oboe)
Graham Salvage (bassoon)
Janet Simpson (piano and harpsichord)
Recorded April 2004 in Whiteley Hall, Chethams, Manchester.
CAMEO 2038 [64.50]

Campion Records

I’m not really quite sure about the musical significance of "fantasising" – which my dictionary tells me involves "creating strange or whimsical ideas". There are plenty strange sounds in much contemporary music, but here, whatever the intention, it suggests much musical wizardry! There are plenty of attractive sounds, and plenty of technical wizardry in this delightful music and its performance, conceived around the idea of a railway journey through rural mid-Wales and making allusions en route to associations with Warlock, Walford Davies, Morfydd Owen and the Davies family.

This imaginary journey sets off with the perky Welsh tune Dygan Caersws, cheerfully elaborated by Ian Parrott for John Turner’s recorder and the other winds before melting into the oboe’s delicious little waltz tune – a melody that lives long in the mind! There is whimsy as the little train puffs, chugs and toots its way through the rural Welsh scene. A contemplative stop somewhere between stations provides a richly haunting, nostalgic melody for bassoon and piano by Peter Crossley-Holland – and in contrast a series of virtuosic variations by Alun Hoddinott for solo recorder illustrating Gwyn Thomas’s poetic evocation of a lizard sunning itself on a railside rock. The train sets off again with a delightfully bumbling Rondo Giocoso by Ian Parrott for bassoon and piano.

Virtually the centre-piece, with its wistful opening bars, William Mathias’s three-movement Concertino (opus 65) maintains the rustic mood, the scoring with harpsichord colouring suggestive of the village green. Beneath the slow movement’s statuesque drooping quasi-Celtic melody (a danse sacré or profane) lurks the image of a darker past – the harpsichord chords suggesting the role of the seannachie. This is followed by an energetic fugal finale.

The next stop is a melancholy wayside halt – Ian Parrott’s "Autumn Landscape" (oboe and piano) seems to look out, with Thomas at Adlestrop, on a deserted panorama – and certainly there are birds? The journey continues with a ‘jaunty’ trip on the narrow-gauge from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge, before letting off steam! All forward movement is halted however with Jeffrey Lewis’s Risoluto - a series of declamatory chords – perhaps at signals? – culminating in a harsh series of piano chords full of tension. The final item might be subtitled "my friends pictured within" - a series of variations by Ian Parrott on a descending C major chord. With it the composer tracks imaginatively how he thinks that some of his colleagues would have treated this chord today – there are echoes of the composers he envisages – that of Finzi perhaps the most readily recognisable.

This is altogether a most companionable record.

Colin Scott-Sutherland

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