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David EARL (b.1936)
Cello Sonata (1998) [29:29]
Piano Suite No. 3 Mandalas (1996) [29:20]
George Corbett (cello); James Sherlock (piano); David Earl (piano)
rec. Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, July 2006. DDD
DIVINE ART DDA25060 [58:51]



David Earl was born in South Africa. Having moved to London in the early 1950s he has performed widely as a professional pianist. The Bliss and Joubert piano concertos are numbered amongst his repertoire. His career as a composer began in 1980 and his list of works is impressive. The piano concertos are from 1980 and 2007. In addition there are concertos for cello (1998), violin (1990) and trumpet (2005). His piano solo suites are: Mosaics, Gargoyles and the present one featured here. There is also a symphonic setting of Intimations of Immortality to join the Finzi and the Somervell. You can find out more at www.davidearl-pianist.net

This ambitious Cello Sonata was premiered in 2006 by the artists who made this recording. The work is in three movements the first of which has a very grand Rachmaninovian sweep and follow-through. The central moderato assai is a most beautifully nuanced meditation which, as with the rest of the music, stays pretty firmly rooted in tonality. This is no obstacle to tension and stormy passion. The finale is marked Elegiaco. The sonata was written in the late summer on the North Norfolk coast. This performance is movingly done although the demands on the cellist result in slight tremors and falterings from time to time. The style should present no problems if you already enjoy the cello sonatas by Fauré, Moeran, Rachmaninov and Foulds. This is a moving work and I do hope that one day I will be able to hear the concertos for cello and violin; not to mention the two piano concertos.

The Third Suite was first performed by the composer at the Maidenhead Music Society concert on 27 April 1997. The notes tell us or remind us that Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle or ring. The five movements include three short preludes which refer to the three protective Mandalas. The first is crystalline and flamboyantly Rachmaninovian in the manner of the Etudes-Tableaux. This is music that shimmers and flames. Harmonic collisions explode before the third movement Lento explores a MacDowell-like simplicity of utterance that glitters with the unadorned directness of de Hartmann. After these three short movements the fourth is the Adagio ma non troppo: ... a mandala of the Five Archetypal Buddhas. This lasts almost quarter of an hour. It moves through a realm of rhapsodic meditation which at times looks backwards to the Java Suite by Godowsky and to the piano music of Debussy. The notes tell us much about the Five Wisdoms but this is music that can be comprehended and appreciated for its own heard values. It carries a certain peaceful cargo and an absorbing concentration of purpose. The composer is a fine advocate of his own music.

Rob Barnett


 


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