When I saw these two CDs on offer in Hyperion’s Please, someone,
buy me ...
section, which means that no-one has purchased
them for some considerable time, I simply had to spring to their
defence. Howells and Dyson may not be flavour of the moment but
their music is well worth getting to know; Howells’ In Gloucestershire
the major work on CDH55045, and Dyson’s Hierusalem
principal item on CDH55046, are both examples of life-enhancing
music and it’s criminal to neglect them.
I’m particularly aggrieved because I’ve recently
mentioned both CDs in the highest possible terms in reviewing
other recordings. I recommended the CD containing In Gloucestershire
in my February, 2009, Download
I rate In Gloucesterhire one of the most
sublime pieces of chamber music that I know; I place it not
far below the Debussy and Ravel Quartets, to which I’ve recently
been listening in a most recommendable new recording by Quatuor
Ebène (Virgin 5 19045 2, with Fauré’s String Quartet).
In some moods I’d even want to hear it in preference to the
Debussy or Ravel. Forget the ‘cowpat’ slurs that were thrown
at Vaughan Williams and other representatives of the English
pastoral school; this is music to lose yourself in and the performance
and recording are exemplary. The Dyson Rhapsodies are
not quite of the same calibre but they are far more than make-weights
and they, too, are excellently performed.
Good as Dyson’s Rhapsodies are, it’s Hierusalem
on the second CD that qualifies for the epithet ‘life-enhancing’.
Once again, the performances of all the music
on this second disc are exemplary, with Thomas Trotter an excellent
accompanist throughout and Valery Hill in superb form in the
principal work. The rest of the music here, dating from the
1930s, is well worth hearing, but the disc is worth the price
for Hierusalem, a work of Dyson’s old age.
Neither of these CDs will still be available
for the absurd price of £2.80 by the time that you read this
review – it would be an even greater crime if no-one bought
them at this knock-down rate – but they’re still excellent value
at the normal Helios budget price. In fact, I recently bought
CDH55046 to replace my mislaid copy of the original disc.
There’s another Howells recording on the Helios
label, a rival version to the Lyrita of the Rhapsodic Quintet,
coupled with other works for clarinet and string quartet (CDH55015,
Thea King again, with the Britten Quartet). Don’t let that
end up on the unloved list, too, or buy the Lyrita – both are
As always, the brevity of this review reflects
the strength of my recommendation. No more words; just buy,
play and enjoy.