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Flying Kites - A Trafford Miscellany
Sasha Johnson MANNING (b.1963)
Flying Kites for recorder and piano [3:15]
Robert ELLIOTT (1932-2002)
Piano Sonatina op. 2 [5:58]
Robin WALKER (b.1953) Four Nursery Rhymes to texts by Thomas Pitfield for reciter, recorder and piano (2003) [3:26]
Thomas PITFIELD (1903-1999) Xylophone Sonata [7:32]; The Skeleton Bride for reciter and piano [3:10]; Rain for reciter, xylophone and piano [1:15]; Bones for reciter and xylophone [1:29]; Bagatelle No. 3 for piano [1:55]
David BECK (b.1941) A Dunham Pastoral for recorder and piano (2004) [6:01]
John IRELAND (1879-1962) The Island Spell for piano (1912) [3:28]; Annabel Lee for reciter and piano (1910) [3:53]
Martin ELLERBY (b.1957) River Dances for recorder and piano (2005) [12:19]
James LANGLEY (1927-1994) Five Shakespeare Dances for recorder (1992) [9:06]
Christopher COTTON (b. 1947) Rural Rondo for recorder and piano [4:52]
Richard Baker (reciter), John Turner (recorder), Keith Swallow (piano), Damien Harron (percussion)
rec. The King’s School, Macclesfield, 29-30 March 2005. DDD
CAMPION CAMEO 2044 [60:52]

This is a most enjoyable collection of brief and pertly concise music from a variety of composers. Primus inter pares is expert recorder player John Turner but it’s certainly good for me to hear Keith Swallow again – that fine and sensitive musician. Damien Harron is the percussionist whose command of colour makes things happen. And there is also Richard Baker as reciter, whose unflappable elegance defined a generation for some of us.

Plenty of unpretentious fun to be had here then. There’s the avian lyricism of Sasha Johnson Manning. And also the vivaciously lyrical immediacy of the Sonatina by Robert Elliott; the finale is especially exciting, though I was also taken by the way the melody lines passes from hand to hand in the opening. Elliott died in 2002. Robin Walker’s Pitfield Rhymes echo the Sitwell-Walton and Baker, who has recited this often enough in his career is well up to the challenges; he’s a fluent, very musically and rhythmically aware reciter. The sardonic recorder comments are a treat.

Pitfield’s own Xylophone Sonata is charmingly modest but takes advantage of opportunities of increased colour through the simplest and most effective of means. A Skeleton Bride has a certain Prokofiev-like bite to it. Pitfield’s Five Shakespearean Dances sound like they make very real demands on breath control. One can hear the tightly-miked Turner gulp like a trout on the riverbank before plunging back into the score. The bagpipe imitations are good! David Beck’s A Dunham Pastorale for recorder and piano is Francophile in orientation whilst the recorder spins an aloofly beautiful line.

The brief but effective River Dances of Martin Ellerby take in perambulation, joy, athleticism and romance amongst other things. Ellerby asks for a tenor recorder as well, so colour is varied along the journey. Maybe Baker overdoes the "loss" in John Ireland’s Annabel Lee but that’s a minor point indeed – he is otherwise splendid. We end with the Rural Rondo by Christopher Cotton – lyric and jaunty by turns.

And that’s pretty much a good summation of the disc as a whole – strong on charm and melody and short on gloom and damp tidings.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Colin Scott-Sutherland/Rob Barnett



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