the exception of the Bax these are all transcriptions usually
from an original for viola and piano.
most substantial piece here though one infused with elusive moods
is the Bax. This dates from about the same time as the Third Symphony.
Its stance is Gallic-flavoured with Ravel's delicacy and Bax's
romantic instincts. There are darker more hyperborean shades in
the viola part than I hear here although the allegro is
good (tr.4) drawing up memories of the Viola Sonata of 1919 and
the Ballad. The harp however is spot-on with the minimum
of finger impact noises. This is still the idyllic Bax on the
cusp of the transition into the Bardic realms of the Second
Northern Ballad and Winter Legends.
Bridge pieces are the work of an adept of the salon morceau -
not that Bridge’s mastery was restricted to that commercial field.
He wrote many such pieces often with French sentiments. These
are closer in character to the similar pieces by Fauré.
Vaughan Williams' lovely Romance is a highly lyrical piece
without obvious folksong references; well worth getting to know
and very well done here. The folksy voice is prominent in the
Six Studies which carry memories of his most attractive
opera Sir John in Love; memories reinforced by the Greensleeves
Fantasia. Ms Lederer's finely delicate tone suits most of
the RVW pieces very well; indeed in the studies the two artists
made me listen afresh to these often slighted pieces. Only the
rum-ti-tum ‘smock dance’ of the final study strikes a false note
and then only fleetingly.
all that sentiment we move to Britten's objective six pieces which
have nothing in them to cloy. They fly delicately along without
troubling the listener with heart-stirrings. After this we come
to one of Britten's favoured composers, Percy Grainger. The carol
shows that Grainger stood at the opposite pole from Britten. He
had no compunction about emotionality and the carol positively
drips with sentimentality.
you like the sound of the viola and the harp this is the disc
for you. There are better performances of the Bax sonata but the
other pieces work very well indeed. If the sound of these two
delicate 'voices' is for you then you need not hesitate.