I was a little concerned
about the title of this disc since not
all the pieces include a jig, an air
or a reel but I suppose the title is
used in the literary sense where, in
a novel, there is one event which may
be short-lived but gives the book its
There is no doubting
John Turner's ability as a recorder
player and some of us are glad that
he gave up a career in the legal profession
to delight us with his musicality. In
addition, he is a most congenial man
encouraging British composers to write
works for him both to perform and record.
He is also a marvellous conversationalist
and a man of modesty - a further proof
of the fundamental goodness of his character.
I loved the playing
of the string quartet who produce a
rich, warm sound.
Not knowing these pieces
or having scores I can only opine that
the performances accord with the composers'
wishes. There is certainly a commitment
and a clear integrity in the performances.
There are no strong points because there
are no weak ones.
It is not easy, nor
is it recommended to listen to all the
pieces at one hearing but it is good
to see composers represented here lest
Some of the music is
not of a very high standard. In fact
some of it is rather poor having nothing
to say and being anaemic and uninteresting.
Nonetheless that charge must not be
levelled at Mr Turner whose kindness
and consideration must remain the focus
of our gratitude. The notes in the booklet
to this CD do whet the appetite and
yet some of the music does not satisfy.
Probably the best work
on the disc is by Franz Reizenstein.
He was a German Jew born in Nuremberg
in 1911 and having the good fortune
to study with Paul Hindemith. Hindemith
and Matyas Seiber were the two great
music teachers of the twentieth century.
Reizenstein came to London in 1934 to
escape the Nazi movement. In the late
1950s and early 1960s he was afforded
some broadcasts by the BBC and performances
in Europe. He told me that he was having
performances in Germany because he was
a German and performances in Israel
because he was a Jew and performances
in the UK because England had adopted
him. He composed two piano concertos
and a concerto each for violin and cello,
the latter being in G sharp minor -
which we performed in 1965 to the delight
of the composer. There are piano sonatas
and some good piano pieces (Reizenstein
was an exceptional pianist) and the
big oratorio Genesis. Most of his music
is published by Lengnick.
Like Hindemith he was
very accomplished in composing for any
instruments and forces. The Partita
Opus 13 was inspired by the recorder
player Manuel Jacobs and originally
composed in 1939 and revised in 1953.
It is in four movements namely Entrada,
Sarabande, Bourree and Jig and is clearly
in line with the baroque dance suite
format. It recalls the composer's German
period hence the affinity with Bach
but the originality in the music is
seen in its grace and delicacy. Watch
out for the cock crow in the final Jig.
The Bourree has a catchy tune.
John Jeffreys comes
from Welsh stock and therefore one expects
fine work from him; we are not disappointed.
This is a most engaging work and I will
say no more but let you discover it
He was born in 1927
and I hang my head in shame to say I
have not heard anything else by him.
He has written a symphony, three violin
concertos, a cello concerto and many
songs as well as a string quartet.
Sir Malcolm Arnold
is dependent on help of all kinds these
days due to his age and weakness but
when I talk with him he is alert and
remembers things of the past with amazing
clarity. The composer David Ellis has
helped him greatly over the years particularly
with his Cello Concerto which Julian
Lloyd Webber premiered but, apparently,
did not like. This was, I understand,
very hurtful to Sir Malcolm as was the
BBC's rejection of the Symphony no.
9 also considered sparse and amateurish.
What this enigmatic symphony did was
to reveal the real Sir Malcolm, a man
maligned and mistreated for most of
his life who hid his emotional pains
behind jovial and sparkling music. I
do not rate this Fantasy very highly.
It seems to be a contradiction of many
styles but the facility is still there.
However the finale tests the soloist
and Mr Turner is more than equal to
Robin Walker comes
form York. In 2001 he completed his
chamber opera The Bells of Blue Island.
The work on this CD is a selection of
quick dances from that and an exploitation
of the Irish song She moved through
the fair. It is very likeable and the
infectious playing makes the music sound
better than it might be.
I admire Edward Gregson
immensely but his versatility and skill
may not always be matched by the content
of his compositions.
Both Philip Cowlin
and Ernest Tomlinson share with Mr Turner
an association with Stockport. Tomlinson
is a Lancastrian and is often unfairly
labelled as a miniaturist or a composer
of light music and an arranger. His
preoccupation with jazz, particularly
in the 1960s has lead some to believe
that he is not a serious composer. This
is unjust and we need a revival of his
more serious music.
Chadkirk Idyll is a
tribute to Stockport, whose football
team has just survived relegation from
the Second Division and which town has
a grammar school with an excellent choir.
In this piece Tomlinson depicts the
lonely chapel in the river valley. The
work is very melodious.
My friend John Veale
is the final contributor. His Triptych
is obviously in three sections, a syncopated
dance, a slow sad middle section and
a waltz finale. It is a fun piece and
I have often bemoaned the fact that
John has not written more chamber and
instrumental music. Originally it was
written for recorder and guitar and
Mr Turner has performed it in that version.
John Veale has written another recorder
piece Impromptu In Memory of Tracey
Chadwell for unaccompanied treble recorder.
This cites some themes from his The
Song of Radha. Tracey was a delightful
person and a very gifted soprano who
was keen to perform John's Song of Radha
but the leukaemia returned and she sadly
lost her battle with that disease. I
will still treasure the many letters
she wrote to me.
I recommend this disc
but I have to repeat the reservation
that some of the music is not particularly
David C F Wright
see also review
by Hubert Culot