Piano Music by William Baines and
Alan Cuckston (piano)
FEW 119 CD
Available from Foxglove Audio. 10 Springwood Road, Rawdon, Leeds, LS19
Telephone and fax 0113 250 7282,
Pictures of Light: Drift Light; Bursting Flames: Pool
A Last Sheaf: Glancing Sunlight; Island of the Fay
Concert Study no. 1 "Exaltation"
Idyll (Nocturne) from Piano Sonata
Elves., no. 2 of Four Poems
Tides: The Lone Wreck; Goodnight to Flamboro'
Nature Poems ; Awakening; Pastoral : Bacchanal.
I have campaigned for many years to have British music recorded and thereby
redress the problem of the neglect of some composers.
There are still many fine works by British composers that are not recorded
such as Richard Arnell's six symphonies, Humphrey Searle's flawless
Riverrun, Apivor's The Hollow Men
and so on.
But when I hear this enterprising CD, I wish the
music had not been recorded and I see another side of the problem. Some music
is so poor that it should not be recorded. It can result in bad reputations.
I am sure that Allan Cuckston, being the distinguished player that he is,
has been faithful to these scores, none of which I know and he must be
complimented on bringing this music into the public domain.
This music of William Baines has no originality or strength. It has nothing
to say and takes a long time to say it. It is a sort of intense French
impressionism in which the composer is
trying to be modern and
introducing harmonies that do not belong to the style he is trying to emulate.
The music is depressing, anaemic and seriously affects one's senses. Drift
Light suffers from many flaws such as the right hand ostinato which is
so wearisome that one could be forgiven for believing one was a mental patient.
This feeling pervades much of Baines' music. Bursting Flames also
has the capacity to make you feel disorientated. Pool Lights is also
dependent on musical devices. Glancing Sunlight has that intensity
that makes you feel that your head is about to explode. The music is not
immediate or durable It is full of tonal ambiguity. Island on the Fay
is equally depressing. One longs for something to happen in this music.
Like Delius and Elgar, Baines could not write for the piano nor could they
write any quick music. Intense atmosphere, threatening thunderstorms, muggy
and oppressive heat is not my idea of good music. The Concert Study has
not a hope of living up to its subtitle. The slow movement of the Sonata
is meandering Victorian sentimentality., crude and cheap. The
Tides pieces fare a little better. At least, one can see where
the composer is going but nothing happens. It is like a Jane Austen novel.
The Goossens is far better but still poor music. He was a fine composer of
orchestral music and a splendid conductor. Who can ever forget his Schumann
Piano concerto with the excellent Peter Katin. The end of Goossens
life was devilled by an atrocious scandal. But he could not write for the
piano either. Only the final piece has any hope but it is very poor compared
to bacchanals written by great composers such as the final movement of
Fleischmann's Sinfonia Votiva.
I cannot comment on the performances or the recording honestly. I can only
assume that they are good.
But the music gets a big minus.