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Le Tombeau d’une Tipula
Henk BADINGS (1907-1987)

Sonata (1957)
David GORDON (b.1965)

Le Tombeau d’une Tipula (2001)
Roxanna PANUFNIK (b.1968)

Remember (2000)
Nigel BUTTERLEY (b.1935)

The White-throated Warbler (1965)
Heinrich POOS (b.1928)

Variations on an Old English Song (1970)
Herbert MURRILL (1909-1952)

Sonata (1950)
Carl RÜTTI (b.1949)
Sonatina (1991)
Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986)

Passacaglia sopra Plusieurs regrets (1962)
Martin SHAW (1875-1958)

Air and Variations (1941)
Alan LANGFORD (b.1928)

Song (1989)
Evelyn Nallen (recorder)
David Gordon (harpsichord)
Recorded at Chapel Lane Studio, September 2000 and January 2001
SAMCD002 [67.03]

There’s some diverting biographical material in the booklet for this eclectic release. Recorder player Evelyn Nallen is a former world champion Irish dancer and David Gordon, who plays harpsichord throughout, specialises in improvisation, both in baroque and jazz ensembles. They form one half of a quartet, ‘Respectable Groove’ (with bass and percussion) and this disc is their first recording of what is referred to as contemporary and fully notated music.

The range is certainly there. David Gordon contributes one piece, there’s a major work by Henk Badings, there are commissions and works dedicated to Nallen, such as the Rütti Sonatina, there are interesting discoveries or retrievals such as Herbert Murrill and Martin Shaw – and there’s the great Rubbra Passacaglia as well. So plenty of mid to late twentieth century variety. The earliest work is Shaw’s 1941 Air and Variations and the most recent is the Gordon piece that gives the disc its diverting title. So let’s start there. Tipula is the Latin name for a daddy-long-legs and Le Tombeau d’une Tipula is a six movement suite devoted to its life, death and – nice touch this – ascension. Gordon’s a broad-minded composer, employing a rock-jazzy patina to describe the terpsichorean insect, a calypso song and a Baptist churchy atmosphere (Alarm) – think of a cross between Keith Jarrett and Carla Bley and you’re in the right area. The struggle and death of the creature is mordantly descriptive and the Ascension is accompanied by rippling heavenly figuration.

Badings’ 1957 Sonata is a strong piece, opening with a motoric, scampering harpsichord against which the recorder battles in vain. In the slow movement the harpsichord turns supportive, chordal, now following the recorder’s lament whilst in the finale things turn elliptical and reflective. The recorder is now flying over the harpsichord’s ominous trajectory of chord placement. There are plenty of emotive states here in the unusual combination of instrumental voices. Panufnik’s is a particularly concentrated and introspective work whereas Poos’ is a series of variations on Greensleeves – that fits the combination very well. As for the short-lived Herbert Murrill, programme organiser at the BBC, his work was one of many inspired by the Dolmetsch connection – in this case Carl. A bright four movement sliver of a sonata it’s neo-classical, harmonically diverting, with a plangent Largo and a perky Presto; extremely well written.

The Rütti Sonatina is engaging and quirky with a nice piece of bird balladry embedded (the bird spies the lovers) and a frolicsome jig to finish. One can never hear the noble unfolding of Plusieurs regrets too often – with Rubbra, as ever, the passacaglia flows as inexorably as a river. Shaw’s gentle piece is attractive.

I’ve not heard of this label before but the sound is naturally balanced, the notes concise, and the repertoire has a quirky independence to it. Worth looking into.

Jonathan Woolf

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