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Armstrong GIBBS (1889-1960)
Complete works for violin and piano
Three Pieces (1923) [8:09]
Lyric Sonata op. 63 (1928) [18:46]
Phantasy op. 5 (1915) [8:08]
Sonata No. 1 in E (1918) [17:58]
Almayne (1932) [5:27]
Suite op. 101 (1942) [13:40]
Robert Atchison (violin); Olga Dudnik (piano)
rec. Potton Hall Studio, Westleton, Suffolk, 10-11 April 2010. DDD
GUILD GMCD 7353 [72:08]

Experience Classicsonline


This is the latest in a developing line of Guild discs. The other two are both Tovey collections: String Quartet and Aria and Variations (Tippett) on GMCD7346 and Piano Trio, Piano Quartet, Sonata Eroica (London Piano Trio, Robert Atchison and Ormesby Ensemble) on GMCD 7352.
Robert Atchison’s translucent bone-china tone is fine, fragile and sweet with a touch of tartness amid the silver. He is complemented by the sensitive and attentive Ukrainian pianist Olga Dudnik. Their strengths play well with the lyrical understatement and yieldingly enthralling modesty of Gibbs’ music.
The Three Pieces are masterfully light of heart, touching, not at all superficial and not salon music in any way. Gossamer is wonderfully memorable for its fairy bell ostinato and March Wind is surprisingly reflective given its title. A lovely and loveable piece of at times lively pastoral lyricism. Gibbs ends boldly with more pastel shaded invention in Silent Pool – a touch of Ireland in its temperament but a less subtle less congealed harmonic weave. Sybil Eaton premiered the Finzi Violin Concerto and championed the Holbrooke concerto as well as the first sonata by Howells. She is the dedicatee of the singing Lyric Sonata – fleet-footed and alive with nourishment for the heart. One wonders if Moeran ever heard this sonata for its spirit might well have possessed the Moeran Violin Concerto. The Phantasy is suitably rhapsodic. The Sonata in E minor – lost until very recently – is graceful but strikes its roots back into the same territory as the violin sonatas by Dunhill, Rootham and Ireland 2. The outer movements have the jaunty sanguine rusticism of Vaughan Williams. The Almayne is a tender and lissom work which in its fragile bloom is redolent of Finzi’s Introit. The latest work here is the five movement Suite with its sequence of Bachian titled and fragranced movements: not neo-classical – closer to capering and meditative Capriol than Pulcinella.
The notes are in English and German. The notes are by Robert Atchison himself and they are a model of succinct expression. Only pedants will do more than groan at the persistent misuse of “it’s” and the misspelling of “Aeolian”. In every important musical respect this is a triumph.
I do hope that Atchison and Dudnik will look out the three violin sonatas of Josef Holbrooke. The Second is a version of The Grasshopper Violin Concerto - itself to be released by CPO in 2011.
This is a lovely disc which will appeal to anyone who has any feeling for Delius or pastoral Finzi or Milford or RVW in Lark Ascending mode.
Rob Barnett


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