One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             




Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962)
The Complete Piano Music [137:27]
CD 1
Kaleidoscope, Op. 18 (Good Morning; Promenade; The Hurdy-Gurdy Man; March of the Wooden Soldier; The Rocking Horse; The Punch & Judy Show; A Ghost Story; The Old Musical Box; The Clockwork Dancer; Lament to a Departed Doll; A Merry Party; Good Night) (1917) [15:09]
Four Conceits, Op. 20 (Gargoyle; Dance Memories; Walking Tune; Marionette Show) (1917) [6:09]
Ships - three preludes for piano, Op. 42 (The Tug, The Tramp; The Liner) (1924) [8:20]
Two Studies, Op. 38 (Folk Tune; Scherzo) (1923) [5:42]
Homage to Paderewski (1941) [2:28]
Hommage à Debussy, Op. 28 (1937) [2:39]
Two Pieces, Op. 56 (Bonzo’s Dance; Pikki ‘s Lament) (1938) [3:23]
Capriccio (1960) [2:33]
Concert Study, Op. 10 (1914) [2:39]
Nature Poems, Op. 25 (Awakening; Pastorale; Bacchanal) (1919) [17:22]
CD 2
(Bach arr. Goossens) Andante from Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (1932) [4:09]
Rhythmic Dance for two pianos, Op.30 (1920) [3:44]
Forlane and Toccata (1960) [4:46]
East of Suez – suite for piano, Op.33 (1922) [25:50]
L’Ecole en Crinoline – ballet, Op.29 (1921-22) [31:20]
Antony Gray (piano)
rec. CD1: 2-3 Oct 1995, 4 Sept 1996, Whitfield St Studios, London; CD2: 3-5, 10 March 1998, Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Ultimo Centre, Sydney. DDD
CD1 previously issued as ABC Classics 462 015-2
ABC CLASSICS 476 7636 [66:24 + 70:03]

This may not be objectively as important a set as ABC’s orchestral discs devoted to the works of Eugene Goossens (see review) but it would not do to underestimate the significance of the piano music. He played the piano as well as the violin. Indeed he left piano rolls on the former instrument though not, so far as I’m aware, 78s on the latter instrument in his capacity as second violinist in the Philharmonic Quartet.
Kaleidoscope dates from his Philharmonic Quartet days, the days when he would capture the character of a fellow player or friend in a deft movement. Such is the kind of gift that informs these twelve little studies. They range from backward-looking amiability, to the wandering harmonies of impressionism  (Promenade), hints of pianistics of the Old School – Mussorgsky in A Ghost Story – and shades of Liadov in The Old Musical Box. We have tristesse as well in the Lament and a fine sense of particular characterisation.  
The noble chording of The Four Conceits’ The Gargoyle vies with the Graingeresque cut of A Walking Tune for optimum pleasurable listening. The set of four was dedicated to Grainger’s fellow Australian, William Murdoch, though regrettably Murdoch never recorded them – and they would have comfortably fitted on one twelve inch disc. The mood studies of Ships, explicitly labelled preludes, hint more strongly at the influences he was absorbing. The first is impressive but the third has some noble left hand chording and some glittering right hand curlicues to daunt and dazzle. 
He can relax nicely with a Folk Tune (from Two Studies of 1923) and also, rather later, pay homage to such as Paderewski and Debussy. These are attractive but not essential. Much better is the Francophile moto perpetuo that is the Concert Study Op.10 or the much denser and harmonically complex Nature Poems Op.25. These are saturated in Debussy but show a highly developed and sophisticated aural palette. The Bacchanal finale has some driving power as well as a really beautiful lyrical central section. These poems are the most adventurous and successful things on the first disc and show that Goossens was fully the equal of any composer in England writing for the piano at the end of the First War.
Harriet Cohen invited contributions in 1932 for an Oxford University Press collection of Bach. Goossens turned his hand to the second movement of the Second Brandenburg Concerto whilst the majority of the others turned to the Chorales (as had, earlier, his old friend William Murdoch). The Rhythmic Dance is a zesty 1920 number, high on pianola and high spirits and here overdubbed, as it was written for two pianos. East of Suez followed two years later and sports some Balinese drive and gamelan colour as well as more explicitly Western harmonies. There’s balletic ambience here a-plenty, not least the Street of Peking, and also some of Ravel’s pervasive influence in the Prelude to Scene IV – a rather passionate scene. It was written as incidental music to the Somerset Maugham play and by all accounts, not least Goossens’ own, the audience talked over much of his music. L’Ecole en Crinoline is a ballet, written between 1921 and 1922. He tried to interest Diaghilev in it – he was conducting for the company – but to no avail. A French director in Paris admired it but referred Goossens back to Diaghilev. At which point of course things collapsed and Goossens never even finished the orchestration – about two thirds was complete. Syncopation co-exists with pawky humour and some rolling drama but in truth it’s not as individual a work as the explicitly oriental theatre music for East of Suez.
The intrepid Antony Gray plays throughout with acumen and verve, relishing the impressionism and the folk dance equally. He’s a first class guide – and has immersed himself in the Goossens’ biography to produce some fine and helpful notes. Though one disc – the first – has been previously released the second has not and was recorded in 1998. Self-recommending for admirers of British piano music.
Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Rob Barnett




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1



Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.