British Clarinet Music Charles Harford LLOYD (1859-1919)
Suite in the Old Style(1914) [9.48] Charles Villers STANFORD (1852-1924) Three Intermezzi Op. 13 (1879) [8.03]; Sonata in F major
Op. 129 (1911) [18.25] William Yeates HURLSTONE(1876-1906) Four Characteristic Pieces (1901) [14.34] Cecil ARMSTRONG GIBBS (1889-1960) Three Pieces (1957) [7.56] Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Five Bagatelles Op. 23 (1943) [13.49]
Alessandro Travaglini (clarinet); Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studio “L’Etremo”, Lessona, Italy, 21 February, 25 May 2009
SHEVA 021 [75.59]
Surveys of British music for clarinet and piano are not uncommon
but this is a well constructed programme. It starts with a first
ever recording of the complete Suite in the Old Style,
written by Charles Harford Lloyd, on the cusp of the First World
War. There are very pleasing baroque insinuations here but real
melodic charm as well. The Sarabande sounds very violinistic
– one can imagine it being based on something by Leclair, let’s
say. Stanford’s Intermezzi are zesty and engaging pieces.
The second of the three is especially sprightly in this performance,
strongly rhythmic, and vital. You can hear the two musicians
move around a little in the recording spectrum as indeed you
can at the start of the equally exciting concluding Allegretto.
Stanford’s Sonata is the centrepiece of the disc, an important
and satisfying work written in 1911. It receives an interesting
performance as well, with its Caoine taken at a most
expressive tempo. The tempo relations work well though and ensemble
is good and the roulades of that slow movement sound very plangent
at the chosen speed. That said its B section emerges as more
clement or emollient than truly contrastive, a decision that
means that other performances – say Plane and Frith on Naxos
8.570416 or King/Benson are more bracing. Alessandro Travaglini’s
tone tends also to be ‘softer’ than his counterparts and this
adds another different gloss on proceedings.
Hurlstone’s Four Characteristic Pieces is pretty much
a repertoire item, for British clarinettists at least. Unlike
the Stanford Sonata’s slow movement the duo gets on with things
in the opening Ballade though, because the acoustic is
rather distant, the sound isn’t optimally flattering and you
may need to turn up the level - which led to a touch of distortion
on my playback. The full colouristic potential of this lovely
music isn’t properly realised. Another repertory piece, and
not just for native players, is the Finzi Bagatelles.
There is some sensitive playing here, with good ensemble but
there’s little joie de vivre in the Fughetta and
again the cloudy recording is a let-down. It’s good to hear
Armstrong Gibbs’s Pieces – the highlight is the delicious
Recording issues will affect things here, and a deal needs to
be done to iron out problems.
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
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to
which you refer.