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Cello Sonatas

Lowri Blake (cello) with Iwan Llewelyn-Jones (piano)
Lowri Records Lowri 2002 65'17"
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Three sonatas composed in 1948 makes for a very satisfying programme, which I played straight through with mounting pleasure and satisfaction. Least known probably is that written for Rostropovich by Nikolay Myaskovsky (Miaskovsky in the R.E.D. catalogue - alternative English spellings of Russian & Indian names can cause problems!). It is the most conservative of the three, with a first movement which perhaps outstays its welcome at 8'35", but it establishes the relaxed style of this experienced duo, who are perfectly attuned and expertly balanced, both in their playing and by engineer John Taylor, in the grateful acoustic of St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol (used for many BBC broadcasts).

Lowri Blake (who also sings contemporary music and cabaret) is no mean writer as well - her notes are exemplary, discussing the three 'conversational types' of her three composers. She characterises Poulenc as a boulevard café chatterer and recalls his legendary partnership with Bernac (I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing them together in the equally legendary wartime National Gallery concerts). This late sonata which, I agree, is still too little known, has its dark undertones - Poulenc was a depressive as well as a clown.

The Carter is relatively early in this still very active 90-year old's oeuvre, and I confess to enjoying it more than some of the more radical works of the 60s & 70s. Blake tells us that it was Elliott Carter's last work to have a key signature, which signifies; there is plenty to get hold of and I think it is still one of his most accessible and effective works, with the rhythmic complexity and verve which is his hallmark. I have heard more strenuous and exciting performances, memorably by Frances-Marie Uitti and Ursula Oppens in Amsterdam, but this slightly cooler, urbane approach is possibly more apt for a composer who is essentially a thinker who does not wear his heart onhis sleeve.

The economical, slender packaging is attractively designed and printed on a single folded sheet of card; the only snag is that it might disappear on your shelves!


Peter Grahame Woolf

 See also

Song of the Black Swan (Lowri Blake with Hugh Webb, harp) LOWRI 2001 Elgar/Bridge (Lowri Blake with Iwan Llewelyn-Jones) LOWRI 2000

Lowri Blake's website is:


Peter Grahame Woolf

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