Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986)
Violin Sonata No. 1 (1925)
Violin Sonata No. 2 (1931)
Violin Sonata No. 3 (1968)
Four Easy Pieces (1926)
Variations on a Phrygian Theme (1961)

Krysia Osostowicz (violin)/Michael Dussek (piano)
rec 30 June - 2 July 1999, Henry Wood Hall, London.
DUTTON Epoch CDLX 7101 [58.34]

Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS
 Amazon recommendations

For many years I associated Dutton with reissues from Decca archives. Out of the blue, three years ago, they cast off in new directions. Their British music series, newly recorded, now serves a core role especially in the area of chamber music. They have made a major contribution to the making accessible of Rubbra's chamber music. There are four discs so far and rumours of all four string quartets to come.

The First Sonata, rather like the Sonatina for solo piano, is from the same stable as the Howells' First Violin Sonata and Vaughan Williams instrumental writing in On Wenlock Edge. Rubbra expresses the pastoral ecstasy of the English countryside though I confess that something with more shattering fibre appears in the finale of the Sonata - a Shostakovich and Grainger precursor.

The Four Easy Pieces can be compared, in vernal charm, with Rubbra's own Nine Teaching Pieces for solo piano. None of the four is longer than 1.31. These are miniatures without a trace of condescension.

The Second Sonata was premiered at the Grotrian Hall in London by Rubbra and his then wife the violinist Antoinette Chaplin. This work is not lacking in passion - listen to track 8 [04. 01]. It is rather as if the emotion that lights up Julius Harrison's Rhapsody - Bredon Hill and Vaughan Williams' Lark Ascending had had a sensuous flame played over their cool outlines. The Sonata was recorded by Albert Sammons on 78s and until 1950 this set was the only avenue by which you could hear some Rubbra. The Lament is tragic in tone and would not be out of place in Steve Honigberg's Holocaust series Darkness and Light (on Albany). The finale rasps with such surly caprice that one might almost imagine this to de Falla or Bloch.

The Phrygian Variations (a theme of Rubbra's own devising, 12 variations and a coda) were commissioned from Rubbra to celebrate the Fifitieth birthday of Frederick Grinke. Grinke had been such a strength to British composers since his twenties. It is a somewhat dry piece which for me does not transcend the severe expectations the instrumentation suggests.

Seven years onwards and thirty five years after the Second the Third Sonata was written for Peter and Angela Mountain. I recall Peter Mountain as the leader of the BBC Training Orchestra (later The Academy of the BBC - doomed to disbanding) and a frequent broadcaster from BBC's South West Region. In this 1968 sonata we return, most of the way, to the passion of the Second Sonata - at least in the Allegro. The grave Andante has the violin in unshowy song and such a song as may remind you of the legato themes in the Fourth Symphony and the Eleventh Symphony. The finale looks back to the jaunty jocularity of the flightier moments in the Fifth Symphony.

All we need now Dutton is a CD of Joseph Holbrooke's three violin sonatas and another of the three by Granville Bantock.

This is a very well fleshed out disc and greatly enhanced by the steady-tone and reserves of feeling invested in the music by Osostowicz and Dussek. The programme notes are by Lewis Foreman. Rather like the late lamented Beulah, Dutton seem to have connections with a transport museum. Classic designs by Barnett Freedman and E McKnight Kauffer (courtesy of the London Transport Museum) grace this series in clean and unglaring splendour.

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: