Improvisation On Little Cornard [5:32]
Spiritual Fantasy [5:58]
Two Shakespeare Settings
I Know A Bank [2:15]
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? [3:03]
An Equal Music [2:12]
An Island Fantasy [5:34]
Chorale Prelude On The Old 100th [3:10]
O Sleep, O Gentle Sleep [2:46]
Remembering Jacqueline [6:11]
The Three Seasons Fantasy
Indian Summer [4:45]
Arctic Winter [5:43]
Spring Fantasy [3:47]
Improvisation On Guiting Power [5:12]
Adrian Woodward, Claire Helsdon, Katie Hodges (trumpets), Mark Wardell, Dr Andrew Earis (organists), The Gould Trio, Anna Leese (mezzo), Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson, Stephen De Pledge, Jakob Fichert, Benjamin Frith (pianists), Diana Galvydyte, Ittai Shapira (violinists), Alice Neary (cello), Daniel Pailthorpe (flute), Emily Pailthorpe (oboe)
rec. Champs Hill, July 2007, January 2009, March 2009, May 2009, July 2009, August 2009, October 2009 and at Chichester Cathedral, January 2008, St Martin in the Fields, July 2009, and the Royal Academy of Music, December 2007
CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD005 [72:44]
David Bowerman is well-known to many as a patron of the arts, possessing, as he does, a fine concert hall which is often in use for recording sessions. This disc proves that he is also a decent composer, with an ability to turn out works that are interesting and pleasant on the ear.
The disc commences with Fanfare for three trumpets and organ. Written for the opening of the Chichester Flower Festival in 2008, it is simply sheer aural pleasure and gets the disc off to a superb start. It is followed by another work for organ, Improvisation On Little Cornard (better known as Hills of the North Rejoice), here played proficiently by Andrew Earis. The ensuing Spiritual Fantasy is a short collection of Negro spiritual melodies for violin, cello and piano, with jazzy overtures. The piano here sounds a little on the hollow side, but the cello in particular is pleasingly resonant – an excellent performance from the Gould Trio. The Two Shakespeare Settings, I Know A Bank and Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? are in the Roger Quilter tradition (although it is perhaps invidious to compare any other songs to those by that peerless master craftsman). Bowerman here presents himself with quite a challenge, setting, as he does, poems that have been set by some of England’s greatest composers. Yet he rises to the occasion – the songs are good, as is the performance from Anna Leese and Stephen de Pledge, the latter proving himself to be a sensitive accompanist, with a very unobtrusive piano line. They are followed by another song, An Equal Music¸ to words by John Donne.
The chamber works that follow are also pleasant pieces, and receive good performances - An Island Fantasy for violin (Diana Galvydyte) and piano (Jakob Fichert), inspired by the island of Antigua, and its waves, streams and beaches; Promenade for cello (Alice Neary) and piano (Benjamin Frith), and Nocturne, later on on the disc (Frith and Neary again).
The Chorale Prelude On The Old 100th again invites comparison – this time with Vaughan Williams, and Bowerman doesn’t come out of it too badly. The Two Songs O Sleep, O Gentle Sleep and Snowflake are good, although some of the vowels appear to have been given an American twang by Felicity Lott, which rather puzzled me.
Remembering Jacqueline is the most passionate, heart-felt, individual and characterful work on the disc and is virtuosically played by Ittai Shapira, while the next work, the Three Seasons Fantasy, is the most substantial. The opening movement, Indian Summer is atmospheric and evocative, whilst Arctic Winter has a touch of Sibelius about it. The disc ends with another organ improvisation, this time on Guiting Power, and I wonder whether Bowerman is perhaps most at home writing for organ. Yet all of these are assured works, and Bowerman – and the artists who have played so well on this disc – must be commended for his efforts.
Assured works and Bowerman must be commended for his efforts.