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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Violin Sonata (1945) [19.46]
Cello Sonata (1921) [14.22]
Suite for Violin and Piano (1909) [28.25]
Krysia Osostowicz (violin)
Jane Salmon (cello)
Michael Dussek (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 16-18 Nov 2001 DDD
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7120 [75.14]


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Rely on Dutton not only to keep pushing the boundaries further out but also to engage artists who are not merely sympathetic but who bring intense commitment to the task. Not for one moment can one doubt the advocacy of these three members of the Endymion Ensemble who revive with new wine these old yet resilient bottles.

Dutton Epoch has done more than any other label to peel back the layers of neglect and ignorance that have for so long cloaked British music of the last century. There has already been one York Bowen disc from them - also well worth getting - CDLX7115. This second one does not disappoint.

Take the Kreisler dedicated Suite for a start. You might have expected a salon delicacy (in fact there is some of this in the dancing Humoresque - part Dvořák; part Saint-Saëns) but this is predominantly a romantically aspirant piece. Bowen writes some truly appealing music occupying the green pastures hemmed in on one side by Tchaikovsky and on the other by Delius. The Suite ends with a scorchingly virtuosic Allegro con spirito in which the piano and the violin are well and truly put through their sparkling Tchaikovskian paces.

Next comes the Cello Sonata - a work dedicated to Beatrice Harrison who gave the premiere at the Wigmore Hall, with the composer. The world had moved on from the suite and the language was now rather more sophisticated but still heatedly passionate. The hothouse atmosphere does not go as far as Cyril Scott but there is a new humid luxuriance in the air; Debussy meets Rachmaninov. Also present is a darker element - one might almost call it malign. The mood is restive and there is an aggression and attack amid the romance. Several times I thought of Arnold Bax's cello sonatas and the solo Rhapsodic Ballad (well recorded by Raphael Wallfisch on Chandos but even better in the hands of Rohan de Saram on a long gone Pearl LP). If the Great War drove a deep revetment between the carefree luxury of the Edwardian era and a new and callous modernity, the Second World War drove the stakes in yet deeper. Jo Cole and John Talbot have also recorded the Cello Sonata with equal fervour and this is coupled even more generously with the cello sonatas by John Foulds and Ernest Walker. The Cole/Talbot disc is available as BMS-423-CD from Stephen Trowell, 7 Tudor Gardens, Upminster, Essex RM14 3DE United Kingdom. Phone: 01708 224795.

The 1945 Violin Sonata was premiered on BBC Radio by the composer with Frederick Grinke. In the 1950s Grinke broadcast it again this time accompanied by Joseph Weingarten - a tape survives. Still the language is romantic, turbulent and tonal. The misty Lento sings irresistibly - a sort of amalgam between Delius and Korngold with a touch of expressionism to spice things along. The brilliant Tchaikovskian finale is Mephistophelian, as flashy as Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen yet as grim as Bax in his Winter Waters and Second Northern Ballad mode.

Bowen clearly had no truck with neo-classicism and the English pastoral was anathema to him. His violin concerto, viola concerto and four piano concertos should be recorded at the earliest opportunity. I think we have some major revelations in store.

The present disc will inflame yet more well deserved interest in this out and out romantic. Highly recommended. More please.

Rob Barnett



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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