Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Jamaican Rumba Vol 2
Tall Poppies Benjamin series. The Chamber music (the string quartets to come!)
Jamaican Rumba (1944) 1.58
Violin Sonatina (1924) 15.19
Cello Sonatina (1939) 12.37
Viola Sonata (1945) 18.42
Tombeau de Ravel (1958) 12.30
Humoresque (1924) 3.12
Arabesque (1924) 3.57
Carnavalesque (1924) 2.50

John Harding(violin)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonatina and last 3 items)
Peter Jenkin (cl)/Ian Munro (piano) (Tombeau)
David Pereira(cello)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonatina)
Esther van Stralen(viola)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonata)
rec 1998 and 1999 Australia
TALL POPPIES TP134 [71.36]

This is the very first substantial collection of chamber music by Arthur Benjamin.

Benjamin seems to have been hounded by the Jamaican Rumba in much the same way as Rachmaninov was haunted by the famous Prelude. In any event it must surely have played its part in keeping the wolf from the door. The Rumba exists in a host of arrangements and versions and loses nothing of its catchy memorability in this version and performance.

The sonata/sonatinas, recorded together for the first time, are all quite short. The Violin Sonatina is skilfully played and is a delightful piece: more of a sonatina in its brevity than in its material which for me recalled the idealised ecstatic melos of the contemporaneous Herbert Howells chamber works (principally the glorious Piano Quartet). The scherzo rustles with Walpurgisnacht grotesquerie. There is a hint of the carefree Warlock about the Rondo. The Cello Sonatina from fifteen years later is still lyrical but is less effusive - more controlled - a little like late Fauré while the middle movement is akin to one of E J Moeran's smoothly turned concert pieces for cello and piano. The Viola Sonata is a darker work having a great deal in common with the contemporaneous symphony. Both date from 1945. We really need to hear the work in its concert orchestral version where it is known under two alternative titles: the Viola Concerto or the Elegy, Waltz and Toccata. Esther van Stralen caresses the lines and darkens her tone in keeping with the mood of foreboding (unconsciously?) stressing the link with its soul partner the Bax viola sonata. The Tombeau is well known and has been recorded before several times .

This is a very fine disc, well recorded and deserving attention. It seems once again to have been ignored by the review magazines.

Ian Munro is the common thread between the two discs. His freshly lucid and very full English-only notes ideally complement this significant release.

Rob Barnett

See also Volume 1


Both discs are available in the UK from Seaford Music.
phone +44 (0) 1323 732553
fax +44 (0) 1323 417455
24 Pevensey Road
East Sussex BN21 3HP
United Kingdom

or if in difficulty you can contact the ever-helpful Tall Poppies direct:-

Tall Poppies Records
PO Box 373
Glebe NSW 2037

Reviews from previous months

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