Those of you who, when you see wording
on a CD label as above, habitually toss
it aside, shudder and forget it, should
make an exception of this one. True,
the music is demanding (what worthwhile
music isnít?), but it is also exhilarating.
And there are a number of features about
its presentation which enhance the experience
of discovering it. (I venture to suggest
that even seasoned listeners will not
know much of what is on offer here).
Firstly, there is the
booklet. The notes, largely by Anthony
Goldstone himself, are exemplary. They
tell us the sort of things we should
know in order to inform our listening,
including enough of each composerís
background to lend understanding to
the kind of music he wrote (writes).
There is also sufficient about the music
itself to guide us through each work
in turn and make the listening even
Wherever possible, and whenever necessary,
Goldstone includes comment from the
composers themselves. Some composers
are notoriously bad at putting their
thoughts into words (after all, their
medium is the music itself) but those
who write here are gifted teachers who
know what they want to say and how to
say it - to our advantage!
Then there is the music
itself. Many will know Holstís
Japanese Suite in its
orchestral guise, a charming, if minor,
product of his still under-rated (and
under-heard) genius and just as effective
in the transcription.
The Eastern flavour continues in Ronald
Stevensonís Two Chinese Folk
Songs which catch an authentic
Japanese flavour throughout, not just
in the actual folksongs, and (as explained
by Stevenson) uses the songs themselves
Anthony Hedges makes
three contributions to the disc and
all bear the imprint of one who is adept
at producing light, as well as more
demanding, music. The two sets of short
pieces - ĎThree Explorationsí
and ĎFive Aphorismsí -
communicate immediately yet also have
enough substance to reward repeated
listening. As for the Sonata,
though obviously by the same hand, it
is by its very nature more substantial.
As befits the music of one who successfully
taught composition for many years it
is lucid and logical in its thought
processes and riveting as music, unfolding
more and more of its considerable treasures
on subsequent hearings.
Perhaps the major work
on the disc is Kenneth Leightonís
Prelude, Hymn and Toccata.
In some ways I wish the sleeve-note
had not disclosed the name of the hymn
tune at the centre of the piece. (Leighton
does not name it). But whether you are
in the know or not (on first hearing
I was not) it is fascinating to hear
how the composer uses splintered fragments
of what is a very well known tune indeed
to give logic, continuity, substance
and structure to what is undoubtedly
a major utterance.
So much for the music;
now the performance. Goldstone and Clemmow
are one of musicís foremost duos. Their
playing of the major duo and duet repertoire
always tingles with excitement and rewards
with perceptive musicianship. And this
disc is no exception. Whether at one
or two pianos, what we hear is both
virtuoso and illuminating.
Goldstone is, of course,
an eminent soloist in his own right
and Anthony Hedges must surely count
himself fortunate to have such a commanding
performance of what is a very fine piece.
But, something I have also suspected,
the performances of Hedgesí shorter
pieces show Caroline Clemmow to be a
fine pianist too. On this showing she
should emerge more often from the duo
and lend her considerable talents to
the solo repertoire.
If you havenít already
guessed it, I was bowled over by this
disc and urge you to have a similar
experience by buying it.
Just one word of warning:
donít attempt to devour it all in one
sitting; it is far too substantial a
meal for such an approach and each course
merits special attention in its own
see also review
by Jonathan Woolf