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alternatively Crotchet

Giles SWAYNE (b. 1946)
Music for Cello and Piano
*Four Lyrical Pieces, Op. 6 (1970) (Tempo rubato, espressivo [3:35]; Scherzando [1:16]; Molto lento [3:50]; Vivace [3:30])
*Suite no. 1 for Solo Cello, Op. 111 (2007) (Prologos: Flexible [2:58]; Choros I: Masculine [1:32]; Choros II: Feminine [2:08]; Serenata: Amorous [2:37]; Strophe: Masculine [1:43]; Antistrophe: Feminine [1:25]; Choros III: Contented [2:15])
Canto for Cello, Op. 31 (1981) [13:11]
*Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 103 (2006) (Turbulence [15:32]; Rest [2:32]; Child's Play [2:06]; Threnody [9:52])
Robert Irvine (cello)
Fali Pavri (piano)
rec. Gartmore Parish Church, Scotland, 11 June 2007; Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, 22-23 August 2007. DDD. * world premieres
DELPHIAN DCD34073 [70:00]


Experience Classicsonline

This is a really delightful disc - varied, humorous and enjoyable.

Giles Swayne is best known for large choral works, such as Cry! (1980) and Havoc (1999), so it is interesting to hear him write on a smaller scale. He spent several years living in a village in Ghana and is also known for the influence of African music on his writing. This can be heard here in Canto but the other tracks on this disc represent other aspects of his work. The works span a considerable period of time, from 1970 to 2007, as well as a range of moods and influences. 

The first work was written whilst still a student at the Royal Academy and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1971 with Jonathan Williams. It is romantic in mood and expansive in style, in some contrast to later works from Swayne. However, the Sonata - from 2006 - is also recognisably in the European tradition, with at least a passing nod to romantic composers such as Brahms. The Suite No.1 is the most amusing piece of contemporary music - not words which often come together! - I have heard in a long time. It is a playful and enjoyable musical joke which I shall let you have the pleasure of discovering for yourselves. 

Born in Hertfordshire, Giles Swayne spent his early years in Singapore and Australia before returning to England, first to Liverpool and then to Yorkshire. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music, London (with Harrison Birtwistle) and in Paris with Olivier Messiaen. He was encouraged to compose by his cousin, Elizabeth Maconchy, and came to prominence with Cry! (1980), an epic 'hymn to creation' for 28 voices, electronically amplified. It was inspired by ideas from African music and commissioned by BBC Radio Three. 

Robert Irvine has had a distinguished career both in orchestral playing and in chamber music. Born in Glasgow, at the age of 16 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he won several major prizes for both chamber music and solo playing. After his studies, he joined the Philharmonia as sub-principal cellist, but also worked extensively at Aldeburgh, where he formed the Brindisi String Quartet as well as being principal cellist of the Britten-Pears orchestra. In 1990, he returned to his native Scotland to take up the post of principal cellist with Scottish Opera, and to form, with Sally Beamish and James Macmillan, the Chamber Group of Scotland. He is now a professor of Cello and of Chamber Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). Robert Irvine has recorded several CDs, including an acclaimed disc of the complete cello works of Sally Beamish on BIS, and the Rachmaninov and the Shostakovich sonatas for Delphian. 

Fali Parvi, like Giles Swayne, has a cosmopolitan background: born in Mumbai, India, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory and at the Royal College of Music, London. He had the honour of accompanying Rostropovich on an extensive concert tour of India. A diverse subsequent musical career has included appearances as a soloist and in chamber ensembles, together with regular broadcasting. He is a fellow member of the faculty of the RSAMD, and with Robert Irvine gave the world premiere of the Swayne Cello Sonata at the Cheltenham Festival 2006.

I enjoyed this disc thoroughly. One of its main effects was to remind me of how distinctive and intriguing a musical voice Swayne has, and to want to listen again to Cry! (available on NMC) and Havoc, premiered enjoyably as a late-night Prom. A companion disc to this one, a selection of Swayne's other choral output, is also available on Delphian Records, DCD 34033.

Julie Williams


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