The late William Mathias's Sonatina Op.3
is a quite early work written during his student years at the R.A.M.
Though it was quite frequently heard in the late 1950s, it was only
published in 1976 with slight revisions. This short, colourful work
already has most Mathias fingerprints: rhythmic agility in the quick
movements, songlike tunefulness in the meditative slow movement, assured
instrumental craftsmanship. A happy work in every aspect, and a most
welcome first recording.
Alun Hoddinott's vast output includes a good
deal of chamber music among which - besides eleven piano sonatas (at
the last count) - sonatas for violin, cello and two clarinet sonatas,
of which the second was written in 1997 for the present performers.
It is a somewhat more serious piece than Mathias's Sonatina;
but it is tuneful, accessible and as superbly crafted as any Hoddinott
Mervyn Burtch may be somewhat lesser-known
than either Hoddinott or Mathias, and his music has not yet been given
its due. (His delightful overture Aladdin has recently been recorded
on Marco Polo 8.225048.) His Prelude, Arioso and Dance was composed
in 1991. The Prelude contrasts a rhythmic, percussive piano part
with a more relaxed clarinet role, whereas the beautiful Arioso
has a darker, elegiac mood which the concluding Dance heartily
dispels. A very enjoyable piece. We should hear more of Mervyn Burtch's
Christopher Painter's music is new to me and
his finely wrought Clarinet Sonata of 1999 is a nice novelty.
It is laid-out in three concise movements never outstaying their welcome.
The central Lento cantabile, yet another song without words,
is particularly fine.
The music of John Metcalf is also new to me
and his Airstream of 1997, again in three short, colouful movements,
is undoubtedly a jolly good piece of music that should become a popular
encore. It provides a playful conclusion to this most welcome release.
Peryn Clement-Evans, who has been closely associated
with these pieces, plays with assurance, commitment and affection. He
and Harvey Davies obviously enjoy the music and so do we.
It seems that this highly commendable release is the
first of a series of recordings of Welsh chamber music. I, for one,
hope that this generous project will be fully carried out and I certainly
look forward to hearing the forthcoming releases. Recommended.