> Aspects of Nature - English and Scottish Recorder Music [DW]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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ASPECTS OF NATURE
English and Scottish Recorder Music.

Seascapes William ALWYN *
Variations on a ground Robert CRAWFORD
Three pastorals Robin ORR
Whigmaleerie David DORWARD
The Long , the short and the tall David DORWARD
Three Flower Songs Arnold COOKE *
A Wayside daisy Robin HOLLOWAY
Rainbow John MCLEOD
Three two-part inventions Robert CRAWFORD æ
Rondeau des Oiseau Robin ORR
I wonder as I wander arr BRITTEN *
Watermusic Gordon CROSSE
John Turner (recorders), *Eleanor Meynell (soprano) æ Tom Dunn (viola) Peter Lawson (piano).
World Premiere Recordings DDD
OLYMPIA OCD 614 [69.41]

This is a welcome disc although to listen to it all at one go is heavy going.

It is really good to have these composers represented even if by small pieces. David Dorward has written two impressive symphonies, concertos for piano, violin, cello and viola, a hugely enjoyable concerto for wind and percussion, an award winning piece Festivities for orchestra, four string quartets which are truly incredible scores, an opera, choral music and much more.

He is a very honest man, a good friend and always a pleasure to talk with.

The only biographical article about him is on this website which I was pleased to write a few years ago. Whigmaleerie was written in memory of Hans Gál whom he knew in Edinburgh. It is a tour de force for tenor and then descant recorder with piano accompaniment, a splendid piece but needs a John Turner to be able to play it. The Long and the Short and the Tall is a clever description of various members of the recorder family. It is an unostentatious piece with piano interludes and its simplicity and directness make it a winner.

Robert Crawford is another gentleman of music. Again there is my biographical account of him on this website. He has composed little but it is all of excellent quality. He has also composed two splendid string quartets, an octet, a Clarinet Quintet and a truly splendid orchestral work Lunula. There has been talk for a while of a proposed Viola Concerto.

Variations on a Ground was written in 1983 for John Turner and Peter Lawson who gave the premiere at the Cheltenham Festival that year. The Three two-part Inventions is based on the musical letters of Crawford's name CAFD BE as in Crawford, Robert.

Whatever became of Gordon Crosse? His hugely engaging Watermusic at 9 minutes 40 seconds is the most substantial piece on this disc. He was born in Bury in 1937. Have we lost him to his interest in technology? He has written three excellent operas but is probably remembered for his opera Meet My Folks to a text by Ted Hughes and of his friendship with David Munrow who were both students at Birmingham University. Watermusic includes the famous Purcell Hornpipe and the composer has cleverly captured the movement of the waves in the opening Prelude. I have often wondered why the Barcarolle is associated with water as a barcarolle makes up the middle movement.

Fans of William Alwyn (and there are plenty of them) will be interested in his Seascapes, his last song cycle which is dedicated to John Turner. The texts are by Michael Armstrong a friend of the composer who had many things in common namely poetry, painting and the sea. Armstrong lived in Jersey and Alwyn on the Suffolk coast. The sea is an inspiration to many composers such as Debussy, Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge, Guy-Ropartz and the rest.

I found this song cycle immensely enjoyable and Eleanor Meynell, who was student at Chetham's School and winner of the RNCM Music Prize has a telling voice of obvious quality and colour.

"The sea is like all women , moody, unpredictable and often highly dangerous," wrote one poet and some of these moods are captured here.

Arnold Cooke's Three Flower Songs are settings of Robert Herrick. He too is a neglected composer. He has six symphonies to his name, concertos for piano, violin, cello, recorder, oboe, horn and two for clarinet and he has written much music for the recorder. It is said that his Symphony no. 1 was recorded many years ago and still has not been released by Lyrita. Cooke had the great advantage of studying with Paul Hindemith.

Robin Orr is also represented on this disc. His daughter is the second wife of Robert Crawford. Again Robin Orr is not played much these days and yet I remember the terrific impression that his Symphony in one movement originally made.

Musicians must rejoice that Turner gave up a career in law to give us something better!

The performances are first rate. Now I must listen to that Alwyn again!

David Wright


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