> Madeleine Dring - Chamber works and songs [AJD]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Madeleine DRING (1923-1977)
Chamber works and songs

Trio for flute, oboe and piano
Trio for oboe, bassoon and keyboard
Danza Gaya

Polka for flute and piano
Italian Dance
Colour Suite
Five Betjeman Songs

Joanne Boddington (flute)
Jane Finch (oboe)
Martin Gatt (bassoon)
Margaret Lynn (piano)
Nicola Hollymann (soprano)
Recorded at St George's, Bristol, November 2000,


MRC Records, PO Box 3101, Wells, Somerset BA5 3WA
12.99 including p&p UK mainland

Hon. Treasurer: Stephen Trowell, 7 Tudor Gardens, Upminster, Essex RM14 3DE ( 01708 224795

There are not many full CDs of Dring's works although her reputation does seem to be building up. Many of you will know of her mostly from the little piano pieces she produced for the "Graded Pieces" books, but she was quite a "Renaissance Woman", being an active cabaret artist and an actor, besides writing and performing her own material.

As a composer she was a miniaturist, and CDs, so far, have concentrated on her piano pieces, and songs. Both range from outright fun stuff, to quite a streak of real seriousness: she was a lot more than just a cabaret writer.

The raison d'être of this CD would seem to be primarily to put together the two trios of which the second does not seem to have been previously recorded (at least, not on CD). The first of these is what most people who come across her work think of as typical Dring: lilting Poulenc, perhaps touched by Tailleferre: perky and prancing outer movements, around a really sweet slow central axis.

Although only three years separate them, the second is something quite else. Here we have astringent Reizenstein and Arnold: the thoughtfulness of the naturally wilful? Even her one-time teacher, VW, just shows through though employing the style he adopted when he had to write for his unfavourite instrument - the piano !

Anyone who was at the BMS song awards a decade ago will remember Alison Buchanan's performance of one of Dring's Betjeman songs: The Song of the Night-Club Proprietress. If you are lucky enough to have the tape of that superb event (still available to members from the BMS Hon Treasurer), you may not feel the need for any other rendering. However, the other four songs are nearly as good. This CD has real competition here, from Robert Tear and Philip Ledger, on Meridian CDE 84386. They also offer a wide selection of Dring's more serious songs (yes she could be quite deep, on occasion even sombre). The male voice is probably slightly more fitting (and the words a bit easier to follow) in Business Girls, and in the almost stentorian Undenominational. However the Proprietress HAS to be a woman! Hollymann gives it with a heart-tearing sense of cynical loss. The lack of printed text is an unfortunate problem.

Evidently Dring's real instrument was the piano. The Colour Suite gives her tremendous sense of lightly jazzy melody a great outlet. The competition here is from a CD by the Dring pioneer, Leigh Kaplan, who is a superb jazz pianist (Cambria CD 1084). Her performance would be hard to touch, and is backed up by a rendering she had arranged for her CD, played by herself and a "jazz combo" which actually goes one up on Dring's originals, if that be possible. Lynn gives a gently swung rendering on the CD being reviewed. For some perverse reason, she ends with the relaxed "Blue Air" (which was the composer's penultimate item). I shall always programme my CD player to put it in the right place, i.e. before "Brown Study"; a minor criticism. The pieces come over beautifully, as do the three two-minute dances (not quite so jazzy) which complete this most desirable CD.

Lovely, melodious and memorable: who needs gloom and doom in their listening?

[This CD review appears here courtesy of the British Music Society. Ed.]

Angus J Duke


There is a bit of a story behind the ordering of pieces for the Colour Suite. We discovered that Madeleine had written them with noparticular order in mind - a matter which was settled by the publisher. The pianist fell in love with them to the extent that she
played them for relaxation in-between sessions, always ending with Blue Air. We like to think Madeleine would have done the same.
David Finch, MRC Records



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