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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Heinrich August MARSCHNER (1795-1861)
Trio in D major Op. 135

The Rubbra Trio (Joseph Glazier (violin) William Pleeth (cello) Edmund Rubbra (piano)) Recorded from a radio broadcast 16 April 1947
Trio in F major Op. 167

The Semino Trio (Granville Jones (violin) Norina Semino (cello) Gordon Watson (piano)) Recorded from a radio broadcast on 17 December 1952
SYMPOSIUM 1260 [64.10]


AVAILABILITY

www.symposiumrecords.co.uk

This disc occupies an overlap between rare repertoire and rare performances. Marschner’s chamber music is hardly popular repertoire, even now, but the composer of Der Vampyr was clearly a more than accomplished, indeed distinguished, exponent of the trio medium. The performances here derive from British radio broadcasts in 1947 (on the Third Programme) and from a 1952 Home Programme broadcast (at nine in the morning if you want the full details, which Symposium handily provides). Symposium notes the problems with the surviving acetates that they believe derive from the collection of, of all unlikely people, Humphrey Searle and these include considerable surface noise and some radio interference with scuffs and scratches galore. I don’t know why Searle should have targeted Marschner but I do know that someone was privately recording the cellist Norina Semino because I have an acetate set of Semino’s Rachmaninov Cello Sonata performance with pianist John Pauer purportedly from a live concert in the 1930s – but maybe from the late 1940s or 1950s.

The D major Trio, the earlier of the two here, is played by the Rubbra Trio. Edmund Rubbra started his trio in the War with his two colleagues and they were invariably billed as Sgt. E. Rubbra, Dvr. J. Glazier and Sgmn. W. Pleeth though the trio did swell when they formed part of the Army Classical Music Group with the addition of flute and bass. On one unfortunate occasion however the trio found themselves at an army camp announced to the expectant soldiery as Ed Rubb and His Boys – a story I hope is not apocryphal. After the War the Trio resumed its work and in time Glazier left and was replaced by the Amadeus Quartet’s Norbert Brainin and after him Erich Gruenberg. They play the D major with real poise. Marschner’s indelible command of long singing lyrical line is abundantly present in the opening movement where buoyancy, imagination, constant rhythmic fluctuations and Weber-like amplitude all coalesce. There are some especially delightful exchanges between all three instruments. It’s Pleeth who opens the Andante with a plangent cello solo, with Glazier and Rubbra no less eloquent (some radio interference intrudes a little). After the quick-fire Scherzo the Vivace concluding movement opens in alternating brusqueness and stately drive. The language veers all the while from assertive to impish and that’s something these players are clearly fully conversant with, though again it’s a slight pity that the fateful interference tends to sully Rubbra’s imaginative and confident piano playing.

The F major Trio shows no less of the qualities that make its companion so forward looking a trio. There’s comparable control of material, with thought and imagination operating on the long line and in the slow movement the elegance and sparkle of the music box like sonorities engendered is most impressive. The musicians here are the Semino Trio, who in addition to Norina Semino includes violinist Granville Jones and pianist Gordon Watson. Jones is poised and precise in his violin lines, extracting a melancholy charm, whilst Semino is restrained in vibrato usage and attractive. Watson impresses in the Scherzo where his understated direction is just right and all three bring out the woodland Romanticism at Marschner’s heart in the finale.

Clearly this is a specialist issue and requires tolerance of the recording limitations of the acetates. But I’m sure there will be curious ears keen to hear the Rubbra Trio and to admire its composer-performer in utterly convivial company. For all their problems these performances are fortuitous survivors of post-War British music-making – and their Marschner readings are frequently riveting.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 



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