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Donald Francis TOVEY (1875-1940)
Chamber Music - Volume 1
Piano Trio in B minor op.1 (1900) [37:40]
Piano Trio in C minor op.8 Style Tragique (1908) [27:26]
London Piano Trio
rec. 27-29 August 2007, Potton Hall Studio, Westleton, Suffolk. DDD
first recordings
TOCCATA TOCC 0068 [65:06]
Experience Classicsonline


Toccata have done not just well but handsomely by Tovey. Their CDs of the Symphony and the Cello Concerto started at the most ambitious end of his catalogue. The label now move to chamber and solo projects.

The op. 1 work is a big four movement Brahmsian piece dedicated to Tovey’s teacher Parry. It is a lovely rounded piece with a strong suspicion that in his head Tovey was hearing a full-blown Double Concerto à la Brahms. In fact the surgingly eruptive lines and vertiginous excitement of the Brahms Double and the Piano Concerto No. 2 are rarely far away from this leonine work. It’s extraordinarily confident for an op. 1. From eight years later comes the slightly shorter Style Tragique trio for the same forces. This began life as a trio for piano, clarinet and horn in 1895 and was broadcast in this form in the 1950s by Alan Civil, Jack Brymer and David Parkhouse. It is in three movements unlike the four of the op. 1 work. Its smiling and self-possessed central Largo recalls the calmer moments in the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1. There is less feeling, with this work, of an orchestral piece manqué. The notes - which are lavishly illustrated with music examples - are by Peter R Shore. Mr Shore has laboured long and hard with the Tovey legacy to bring about performances and recordings. He can take pride in his success and in the pleasure these recordings have brought to many unsuspecting listeners.

This is a composer you need to discover if the references above already appeal to you. Tovey brings a mature originality of ideas which the Brahmsian manner does nothing to blunt. It is a pleasure to report that there is already talk about successors to this disc to include the two string quartets. Of course the most ambitious prize would be a full recording of the opera The Bride of Dionysus.

Rob Barnett


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