Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Bernard van DIEREN
Song from The Cenci (1909-17) [6.08]
Rhapsodia (Thomas de Quincey) (1909-17) [5.44]
Estemporale No. 1 for harp (1931) [3.32]
Wer zum erstenmale liebt (Heine) song (1900s) [0.53]
Wenn ich auf dem Lager liege (Heine) song (1900s) [1.29]
Und wüssten's die Blumen (Heine) song (1900s) [2.30]
Mädchenlied; An einem jungen Rosenblatt (Bierbaum) (1914) [1.15]
Estemporale No. 2 for harp (1931) [3.32]
Der Asra (Heine) song (1900s) [2.35]
Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen (Heine) song (1900s) [4.55]
Sonata for solo violin (1920s) [18.45]
Mit deinen blauen augen (Heine) song (1900s) [1.28]
Mir träumten von einem Königskind (Heine) song (1900s) [2.27]
Piccolo Pralinudettino Fridato for piano (1934) [3.37]
Les roses étaient toutes rouges (Verlaine) song (1925) [4.01]
Spring Song of the Birds (King James I of Scotland) song (1925) [1.15]
Sonatina Tyroica (1925?) [14.32]
Ludmilla Andrew (sop)/Philip Thomas (all songs)
Ludmilla Andrew (sop)/Emperor String Quartet (Martin Burgess, Clare Hayes (violins), Niakos
arb (viola), Paul Brunner (cello)) (Cenci and Rhapsodia)/Barry Collett
Sidonie Goossens (Estemporale 1 and 2)
Chris Nicholls (Sonata for solo violin)
Chris Nicholls (violin)/Jonathan Ayerst (piano) (Tyroica)
rec, St Silas Church, Kentish Town, London; St Giles Without, Cripplegate, The Barbican, London Bishopsgate Hall, London, Studio SG, Surrey, England

This is THE collection of the music of the fabled composer Bernard Van Dieren. If you have any interest in the outer reaches of British music during the Twentieth Century this needs to be in your collection.

It is an unsung collection about a mystery figure in British music. Be warned, Van Dieren's music is not of that 'conventional' lyric mainstream - no pastoral singer he. His works, especially the earlier ones, are often marked out by polyphonic complexity - this is much in evidence in the six string quartets or at least the four that I have heard: numbers 1, 4, 5 and 6. The music is difficult and there is little or nothing of the populist circus about it. If anything he leans towards mainland European models like Zemlinsky and Schoenberg. His Chinese Symphony, which I have heard in two broadcast tapes (conducted by Myer Fredman in the early 1970s and by Huub Kerstens at Amsterdam during the 1980s) is a work of typical convolution of line with little surface glamour - well let's not exaggerate - no surface glamour. What it needs is a really first class recording of pellucid transparency.

Van Dieren has his resolute champions including Alastair Chisholm and the composer Denis ApIvor. Typically it is ApIvor who provides the arrangements or more accurately realisations for the first two tracks of this disc. Van Dieren's influence on Warlock was said to be malign driving him towards alcohol addiction. Whatever the truth of that his music is of an extraordinary quality in its self confidence and its sense of address only to those who have the steely will to listen over the top of the total absence of any evidence that the composer will curry favour with the listener. The songs show a refined literary taste (Heine and Verlaine) though the settings are curiously disconnected and even awkward. Presumably copyright reasons stopped the printing of the sung words. All we get are English translations. We should note in passing that this is not the first recording of many of these songs. A complete recital was issued on LP during the very early 1980s by the Dutch company BV Haast. To the best of my knowledge that valuable collection have has never been reissued on CD.

To have Sidonie Goossens playing the Two estemporales is a privilege and they are perhaps the most approachable works here. They were written for Goossens in 1931. Some hint of the difficulty of the string writing in the quartets is given by hearing the sonata for solo violin and the Sonatina Tyroica for violin and piano.

The performers are excellent as is Mike Skeet's usual clear, natural and broad recording quality. Ludmilla Andrew suffers somewhat from the usual soprano disease which clouds enunciation. That, however, is a marginal drawback and Andrew makes a glorious noise. It is good to come across her name again. The last time I recall hearing her was back in the 1970s in a very rare BBC Radio 3 broadcast of a special studio recording of Sibelius's taxing Luonnotar. I do wish I had a tape of that. I thought she was well suited to the work - a very fine advocate.

You could not realistically ask for a more generous selection. Is it too much too hope, in these days when extraordinary events have turned into reality, that the next Van Dieren disc should include the 35 minute Chinese Symphony (five solo voices, chorus and orchestra), the Spenser Sonnet and the Serenade for Nine Instruments. The latter would couple rather nicely with Bax's Nonet and even more appositely with of Goossens' Nonet for nine wind instruments.

Rob Barnett

NOTE: This disc can be ordered from the British Music Society. Sadly no e-mail payment or ordering facilities but if you contact its Hon Treasurer, Stephen Trowell at 7 Tudor Gardens, UPMINSTER, ESSEX RM14 3DE, UK or phone him on UK 01708 224795 he will be able to quote you for orders in US dollars and British sterling. Stephen can also quote you for CASSETTE ONLY versions of two collections of Van Dieren's piano music: : Volume 1 (BMS402): Six Sketches (1910-11), Toccata (1912), Tema Con Variazione (1927) and Vol. 2 (BMS405): Three Studies (1925), Piccolo Pralinudettino Fridato (1934), Adagio Cantando (1931), Spring Song of the Birds (1925), Weep You No More (1925) and Netherlands Melodies (1925). Both are played by Van Dieren specialist: the late Eiluned Davies.

Alternatively THE DISC ONLY can be ordered from:-

UK is £10 incl UK P&P
abroad, the appropriate extra - Please approach Mr Skeet for quote.

Mike Skeet at F.R.C.
44 Challacombe
Milton Keynes MK4 1DP
phone/fax +44 (0)1908 502836


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