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
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
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
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!