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Timothy SALTER (b.1942)
After the Sun (1988) [20.01]: (They are all gone into the world of light! [3.00]; Was aber hindert uns zu glauben [3.44]; Traveller [5.31]; He that hath found some fledg’d birds nest [1.56]; Freilich ist es seltsam [4.26])
Matthew Brook (baritone)
Rebecca Kozam (oboe/cor anglais)
Timothy Salter (piano)
Recorded June 2003, Potton Hall, Suffolk
USK 1225CDS [20.01]

 

Timothy Salter is known in equal measure for his work as composer, conductor, teacher and pianist. He has been on the staff of the Royal College of Music for some years where he teaches both composition and performance studies. He is also well known as the Musical Director of the Ionian Singers and as a pianist he has accompanied numerous individual singers and choirs.

Usk Recordings is Salter’s own label, dedicated to the recording of new and neglected repertoire. Their disc count now tallies around a dozen or so. Not surprisingly Salter’s own music has figured prominently although composers such as John Casken, Philip Cashian, Simon Bainbridge, Thea Musgrave and Gabriel Jackson to name but a few, have all benefited from having works recorded for the label. A glance through the catalogue also reveals a number of rare works by the likes of Coleridge-Taylor, Stanford and several English Renaissance composers.

This CD “single” of twenty minutes duration, focuses on one work, Salter’s After the Sun, for baritone, oboe (doubling cor anglais) and piano. The piece explores differing aspects of and attitudes towards death through the words of Henry Vaughan, Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Lowbury. It is Lowbury’s intensely personal Departure III that Salter sets as the fulcrum and emotional centre-piece, framed by Vaughan and Rilke respectively.

It is from this ordering of the poetry that Salter draws his musical structure, a structure that is clearly audible and gives the cycle a sense of both proportion and architectural symmetry. Vaughan’s vision of an ecstatic entry into a world of dazzling white light sets the voice against shimmering piano oscillations before the brightness decays to leave the solo oboe sustained and alone in the transition into Rilke’s twilit world of dark sobriety. Here the character of the music takes on a more expressionistic language, the initially sparse, jagged piano entries texturally filling out. Oboe and piano often shadow each other whilst the baritone’s vocal line also grows from the angular opening to take on a more declamatory nature. The transition for piano alone leading into Departure III or Traveller sets the stillness of atmosphere for Salter’s austerely beautiful setting of Lowbury’s evocative yet quietly powerful words. From this the solo cor anglais line grows naturally into the renewed brighter textures of Vaughan’s He that hath found some fledg’d birds nest with its fleeting references to the shimmering piano accompaniment of the opening Vaughan setting. The extract from Rilke’s Duineser Elegien that concludes the work descends once again into darkness although shot through with occasional flashes of light. There is a final flourish that leaves the resonance of the piano to decay into silence.

As one would expect with the composer at the piano, the performance has a feel of authority with oboist Rebecca Kozam - a former pupil of the Royal College and therefore presumably well known to Salter - and baritone Matthew Brook both acquitting themselves admirably. The sound, whilst somewhat closely recorded, comes across with clarity and presence.

Christopher Thomas

For more information about Salter see www.timothysalter.com

 

 

 



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