Gordon JACOB (1895-1984)
Suite for Recorder and String Quartet (1957) [19:22] (World Premiere in Quartet Version)
Sonatina for Treble Recorder and Harpsichord (1985) [9:38]
Sonata for Recorder and Piano (1967)  (World Premiere)
A Consort of Recorders (1972) [10:15]
Variations for Treble Recorder and Piano (1962) [12:55]
Trifles, for Treble Recorder, Violin. Cello and Harpsichord (1971) [9:07] (World Premiere)
Annabel Knight (recorders); Robin Bigwood (harpsichord and piano); Maggini String Quartet (in Suite); David Angel (violin) (in Trifles); Michal Kaznowski (cello) (in Trifles); Fontanella
rec. 12, 25-26 January 2009, Pottleton Hall, Suffolk. DDD
NAXOS 8.572364 [75:10]
For me Gordon Jacob had always been admirable for his craftsmanship, but not too much for expressive ability. Almost everyone loves the Suite for Recorder and Strings, but I am forced to confess that the other works on this disk of recorder music have made me a convert, given the range of feeling they encompass.
As can be seen above, the version of the famous Suite here is accompanied by string quartet. This provides a very different sound from the usual configuration, one which I found not quite as rewarding. But I was totally taken with the Variations for Treble Recorder and Piano, which not only shows great inventiveness in form, but plumbs some emotional depths (see review).
Of similar heft to the Variations is the Sonata, again for treble recorder and piano. This contains both an andantino and a largo that amply demonstrate how serious the composer could be, while the other two movements are most enjoyable, with a serious ending to the scherzo. Trifles has more to it than the title implies; it shows more invention than one would expect and a very clever use of the harpsichord. I found the Consort of Recorders the least impressive of the works here. Perhaps this is due to my having been dragged to so many multiple recorder concerts. On the other hand, the Sonatina, again with harpsichord, is very absorbing and has a beautiful theme in the adagio.
Annabel Knight is a performer who seems to be able to accept any challenge when it comes to the recorder. There is a lot of repertoire I hope she records in the future. Robin Bigwood ably accompanies her on both piano and harpsichord, notably on the latter. He also engineered and co-produced this recording: a man of many talents. The Maggini are beyond comment at this point and this record does nothing to lessen their repute. With a high woodwind instrument such as the recorder a certain amount of shrillness is inevitable, but it not a major problem. This recording is definitely an eye-opener both as to Jacob and as to the modern recorder.
A lovely recording of some mostly unknown music, showing great variety of expression. Annabel Knight is someone to watch.
see also reviews by Dr Geoff Ogram and Bob Briggs