Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Chamber Music
Tumbling Strains (1992)
Tingling Strings (1993)
Commemoration (1988)
Split the Lark (1991)
A Chaos of Delight I (1995)
A Chaos of Delight II (1996)
a pink-lit phase (1997)
small blue (1998)
Douglas Bellman (violin), James Tennant (cello) (Strains); Dan Poynton (piano) (Strings); Alexander Ivashkin (cello); Mark Menzies (violin), Dan Poynton (piano) (Split the Lark), Andrew Uren (bass clarinet) (A Chaos of Delight I); Jane Manning (sop) (A Chaos of Delight II); Nash Ensemble of London (phase); Dan Poynton (piano) (small blue)
ATOLL A9806 [79.02]

De Castro Robinson's 1970s Pendereckian modernism is lightened in the case of Tumbling Strains (for hyper active violin and cello) by the something of the clarity of Ravel's Quartet. The much shorter Tingling Strings is for solo piano and is classic 'plink-plunk' material - angry, impatient dysfunctional. The very early Elegy for solo cello keens with the passion of the bereft. Split the Lark (a title taken from an Emily Dickinson poem) is a fifteen minute piece for violin and piano - a rhapsody, tentative and exploratory, feeling its dissonant way, skittering in insect fury, barking and thundering. A Chaos of Delight is an 8 minute solo for bass clarinet. Its frame of reference is birdsong - songs wild not domesticated, songs concerned with death and predation redolent of Ted Hughes - no Lark Ascending here. Jane Manning trills, warbles, stridulates, clicks and howls her way through A Chaos of Delight II. A pink lit phase is for flute, viola and harp (a not unheard of combination) and is the most yielding of the pieces here - leading the listener by the hand through recall of the high-days of youth's summers. This is the piece to hear if you are wanting an easier route to de Castro Robinson. Small Blue (1998) for solo piano was written in memory of Michael Tippett and in its piano part holds up Satie's muse to a Schoenbergian refracting glass.

This is tough but substantial and as out of step with neo-romantic trends as George Lloyd was back in the 1970s when this de Castro Robinson's music would have found a readier audience at London's Round House and in the late evening reaches of BBC Radio 3. The composer must be delighted with these performances which are hoarse with conviction. The recording quality is a faithful advocate for such creativity.

Rob Barnett

In case of difficulty available from
Atoll ltd, PO Box 99039, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand.

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Musicians accessories
Click here to visit