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Graham WATERHOUSE (b. 1962)
Praeludium Op.32 (1992)a
Three Pieces for Solo Cello Op.28 (1996)b
Contraventings Op.46a (1998)c
Le Charmeur de Serpents Op.39 (1997)d
Scherzino Op.24/2 (1994)e
Bow ‘n blow (1996)f
Vezza (1995)g
Gestural Variations Op.43a (1997, rev. 1998)h
Toccatina Precipitando Op.24bis (1985, rev. 1998)i
Markus Schön (clarinet)cfhi; Agnès Marc (recorders)d; Graham Waterhouse (cello)bfghi; Michael Wendeberg (piano)aehi
Recorded: Erholungshaus der Bayer AG, Leverkusen, July 2000 and February 2001
CYBELE 660.601 [70:31]

Graham Waterhouse was trained as a cellist and as a composer, and is heard here in both capacities. Though he has composed a number of orchestral or ensemble works, some of which are now available on Meridian CDE 84510 (reviewed here a few weeks ago), he also has a good deal of chamber music to his credit, some of which are included in this release.

Several works here are either for cello or with cello; and one of the most substantial pieces in this selection is the Three Pieces for Solo Cello Op.28 completed in 1996 and dedicated to Siegfried Palm. A short, vivacious and often whimsical Scherzo of considerable virtuosity is framed by two weightier, mostly slow and rhapsodic movements of great expressive strength exploiting the full expressive range of the cello. Vezza, "a limerick for cello and speaking voice", stands in direct contrast; for this funny little melodrama plays with the word ‘Weather’ (‘Vezza’ being the German pronunciation for ‘weather’, so we are told). This is a splendid encore, superbly written for the instrument in an often funny, but subtle counterpoint with the rhythms of the spoken words.

Bow ‘n blow, a duo for clarinet and cello, is another very fine piece for a fairly unusual instrumental combination, which is as expertly written and attractive as anything else here.

Le Charmeur de Serpents Op.39 is a real tour de force in which the player alternates between alto and sopranino recorders, but also plays simultaneously on both instruments. There is, however, nothing ‘experimental’ about this colourful, attractive piece.

Contraventings Op.46a for solo clarinet is a free fantasy resourcefully exploiting the whole range of the instrument, in much the same way as in David Golightly’s Moods or Berio’s Sequenza IXa, and calling for a good deal of agility, tonal variety and musicality as well an the player’s part. A substantial addition to the repertoire of modern, though quite accessible music for solo clarinet.

Gestural Variations Op.43a, actually a theme and six variations framed by an introduction and a postlude, was originally written for bassoon, oboe and piano, and re-cast in 1998 for clarinet, cello and piano. The six, highly contrasted variations display a remarkable instrumental mastery, that makes this work a feast from first to last.

Two short piano pieces are also featured here: the brilliant, virtuoso Praeludium Op.32 and the perky Scherzino Op.24/2, the latter often bringing Prokofiev’s short character pieces to mind. The original Toccatina Precipitando Op.24/1 for piano was later re-worked and slightly expanded as a short trio for clarinet, cello and piano heard here. This delightful, almost minimalist piece is an exhilarating encore and joyfully rounds-off the present composer’s portrait.

Needless to say that all performances here, either with the composer or with his being around at the time of the recording, are superbly played throughout and – no doubt – serve Waterhouse’s well written and attractive music well.

Hubert Culot


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