Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


William BAINES (1890-1922) Pictures of Light (1920?); Glancing Sunlight (1920?); Island of the Fay (1920?); Concert Study (Exaltation) (1919?); Idyll (Nocturne) (1919); Elves (1919?); Paradise Gardens (1920); Tides (1920)
Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) Nature Poems (1919)
Alan Cuckston (piano)
rec Leeds, 12 April 1990
SWINSTY FEW 119CDr [65.03]

The music of neither of these composers is commonly encountered in the concert hall.

Baines, who died early after a life trammelled by sickness, writes in a saturated but paradoxically transparent version of impressionism. This focuses demands on the performer and Cuckston is strong on those subtle qualities though the acoustic is not quite ideal. The approach is Debussian with eddies anticipated, consciously welcomed, or otherwise, from John Foulds, Cyril Scott and Scriabin. During his lifetime, and beyond, Baines' music was taken up by the pianist Frederick Dawson, a fellow Yorkshireman. Fitting to a tee  the cliché of the doomed artist who died young, the music transcends the tired biographical background. These pieces float by in flickering and glowing colours. Pictures of Light comprises Drift Light; Bursting Flames; Pool Lights. Paradise Gardens is all summer heat-haze - a piece which one might naturally link with Alain Fournier's novel 'Le Grand Meaulnes'. The Island of the Fay also exists in an orchestral version premiered in the 1970s by Leslie Head and the Kensington Symphony Orchestra. The grand gesture of the closing pages of Exaltation deploy a stonily dissonant but heroic gesturing. Idyll is Delian-bluesy woven into a structure like one of the gentler Rachmaninov preludes then rising to ice-splintered grandeur. Elves is not at all twee - a glittering evocative picture that might have come from the imagination of Victorian painter, Richard Dadd. Tides comprises The Lone Wreck and the study that lends its title to this disc: Goodnight to Flamboro'. The green-black depths of the former would neatly partner Cathédrale Engloutie.

William Baines' exotic piano music is not unknown on disc. In the very early 1970s Eric Parkin recorded a recital for Lyrita Recorded Edition. This LP (now long gone, of course) suffered from rather feeble sound - fatal in such fragrant blooms. Priory have a freshly recorded Parkin CD fully given over to Baines piano music on Priory PRCD550 and this is well worth getting if you want a complete Baines recital.

Baines is well worth exploring. Details of Roger Carpenter's recently republished study of the life and music appear as a note to this review. Baines' symphony may still be available in a rather creaky student orchestra recording (CASSETTE ONLY) from conductor George Kennaway and the Airedale SO at 23 Ingledew Crescent, Leeds LS8 1BP ( /fax 0113 2663966. Mr Kennaway's e-mail address is
Mr Kennaway has been working towards sponsorship for a CD of fully professional performances of the Symphony, the Poem for piano and orchestra and the miniature tone poem The Island of the Fey. This would run to 65 minutes. Surely the other tone poem, Thoughtdrift, could also be accommodated? The complete project was estimated to cost circa £25,000.

Swinsty did well to vary the mix by adding the Goossens. Too much Baines in a single recital might well have been a mistake. Goossens' Nature Poems are a major sequence playing close to 25 minutes. It is dedicated to Benno Moiseiwitsch. The Awakening is stony and angular of expression with a slow blooming ecstasy. Pastoral continues in a similar vein - not at all a facilely English picture. Goossens is, here, closer in style to Frank Bridge than to, say, Delius. After two rhapsodic dreams comes the turmoil of Bacchanal - still moderato in pace but troubled all the same and always curving off into surreal landscapes.

The piano sound is warm and enveloping. The notes by the pianist are brief and to the point.

Rob Barnett


Price per CD inclusive of p&p within UK is £11.00
Price per CD inclusive of p&p outside UK: please enquire
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Web links (courtesy of Ian Bown)
Biography, photos, reproductions of concert programmes, pages from Baines' diary:
Rare photograph of Baines:-

Baines article 'The Wind taught a Music Maestro':-

GOODNIGHT TO FLAMBORO': The Life and Music of WILLIAM BAINES by Roger Carpenter (BMS Monograph No. 4)

Decorations by Richard A. Bell limp-bound 210x148mm, 120pp plus 8pp of photographs. 5 facsims, 34 music exx. British Music Society Monograph No.4 ISBN 1 870536 18 5 Price: £10.99 add £1 for overseas postage or £2 for airmail outside Europe) Cheques in sterling payable to 'British Music Society' IF PAYING IN US DOLLARS NOTE $19 US incl air mail and CHEQUES ONLY - CHEQUES MUST BE MADE PAYABLE (US DOLLARS ONLY) TO 'Stephen Trowell'. Book Orders please to The Honorary Treasurer, The British Music Society, 7 Tudor Gardens, Upminster, Essex RM14 3DE, U.K. Sadly no e-mail orders

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