Judith Bailey was born in Cornwall in 1941. Her instrumental music
occupies an important place in her musical output and is given
the platform it deserves in this release. The works are set out
chronologically so we can start with the earliest, the 1987 String
Quartet and end with Light, her Op.76, written in 2004.
The Quartet is written in three brief movements.
It’s tightly argued and the first movement has the feel, at
least, of baroque affinities and is grave of utterance but flows
freely, remaining unresolved at the end. The central movement
is fugal, the density of which is banished by a gutsy free wheeling
finale full of spirit. The Clarinet Quintet (1993) is another
three movement, even more compact work. The first is good humoured
and concise, almost cheeky at points, whilst the finale is a
perambulatory affair, with a brief moment of reflection on balance
overshadowed by the jaunty confidence of the writing. At eight
minutes in total it certainly doesn’t prolong things unnecessarily.
The Towers of
San Gimignano for solo piano followed in 1993. The first
movement is a bell chime study – at first elusively so, and
then the bell chimes become progressively more audible the more
the piece develops (and the ‘nearer’ pictorially speaking the
composer-auditor gets to them). There is a grand efflorescence
then more limpid sounds. The second movement is Frescoes
– rich and redolent tracery; the Piazza finale features
the kind of jaunty stuff that ended the Clarinet Quintet – a
chirpy song alternating with chordal power.
From a solo piano
work to the Egloshayle Nightingale Trio for violin, viola
and cello. Cast in baroque-sounding movements this embraces
the folkloric, utilising that lovely song The Sweet Nightingale
- you might remember it from Deller’s recording. Sweetly sunny
and vivacious. Aquamarine Waltz for cello and piano is
pleasant; the Microminiatures left a lesser impression
– nevertheless they’re quietly intense with spirited finales.
Visions of Hildegard is a series of variations or ‘breaths’
reflectively and with cumulative weight becoming more and more
moving - a lovely piece of music. Finally there is Light;
a serious minded, reflective but intense work for piano trio.
Though it has moments of outburst it ends in affirmative and
The performers are
strong advocates for Bailey’s music and they’ve been recorded
in quite a pleasingly up-front sort of way. This is a fine and
stimulating conspectus of Judith Bailey’s chamber music.
see also Reviews
by Dominy Clements and Rob