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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Harold Moores Records

LOTUS LAND - British Piano Album
Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989)
Preludes no. 1; no. 4; no. 6; Five Short Pieces - no. 2; no. 3; no. 4;
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Notturno;
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Rosemary; Romance;
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Lotus Land;
Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
In a Vodka Shop;
E.J.MOERAN (1894-1950)
Field at Harvest;
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
April; By the Mere; In the Meadows; The Hunt's Up; The Towing Path; Amberley Wild Brooks;
William STERNDALE BENNETT (1816-1875)
The Millstream;
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Three Preludes;
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Nocturne;
York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Prelude in E flat
Kumiko Ida (piano)
No recording information DDD
MITTENWALD 99008
[65'56]
Error processing SSI file

A delightful and very well played disc of British miniatures played by a young Japanese pianist who studied in the UK with a distinguished collection of teachers - including Hamish Milne, the late Alexander Kelly and Raphael Terroni.

Ms Ida clearly has a love of these little pieces and responds with surprising maturity to their wistful moods and poetic challenges. Though many of the works have tricky corners, none are exactly barn-stormingly virtuosic - but the purely musical challenges are many and varied and met with a refreshing naturalness, assured technique and wit.

The contribution of Lennox Berkeley to piano literature cannot be over-estimated and will hopefully be further recognised in 2003 - his centenary year. The op23 Preludes are some of his most frequently played pieces and Ms Ida manages to find the essential jewel-like clarity to make the running semi-quavers of the first Prelude sound much easier than they actually are. The other two have sparkle and melancholy in equal proportion, whilst taking care to steer clear of overt sentimentality. The Poulencian short pieces are charming - but itís a pity there was no room for the full set.

Britten may well have been a wonderful pianist but wrote less than wonderful music for piano solo. It is interesting that this recital focuses in part on composers who are not readily associated with this medium - Holst and Delius as well as Britten - all beautifully coloured and played, but not even such championing can dissuade this writer from thinking that they are ultimately uninteresting works. The Britten in particular shows the composer at his driest and most uninvolved.

The remaining pieces are of course all idiomatic and grateful to play and to listen to. "In a Vodka Shop" has bite and humour, the still underrated York Bowen sparkles, but best of all are the Ireland pieces - I have never understood why this wonderful music is not in the repertoire of every self respecting pianist. Ms Ida relishes the demanding florid arabesques of "Amberley Wild Brooks" and finds the tenderness in the calmer world of "The Towing Path" - in amongst all this early twentieth century music it is good to hear Sterndale Bennett's "The Millstream". A small point that arises from the proof reading of the notes - Sterndale Bennett's dates were by all accounts (1916-1875!) and quite what "....approaching the blink of tonality..." means (when referring to Frank Bridge) one can only guess! - that apart a most auspicious solo recital that deserves the widest circulation and recommendation.

David Wordsworth


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