Few people have heard of the composer David Bowerman. This album
of romantic music, while generally unremarkable, was written
by a quite remarkable man. He was born 75 years ago in south
England, and worked a full and successful career as a farmer.
He has loved music all his life but has almost no formal training.
He had not put pen to staved paper until ten years ago, yet
this is the second CD full of his music. He came from a strict
religious upbringing, and so several pieces on the two CDs evoke
hymn tunes, but the majority of works are pleasant variations
or fantasies on the themes of other composers.
Since retirement after forty years at farming, Bowerman has
created a rich and enviable life. He and his wife Mary moved
to a place in West Sussex called Champs Hill. There they built
a concert and recording venue called The Music Room. Its 160
seats host 25 concerts per year and are always sold out. The
list of artists featured there would fill a musical Who’s
Who: Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside, Viktoria Mullova, Ian
Bostridge, Stephen Isserlis, the Nash Ensemble and the English
Bowerman’s greatest joy, besides composing, is helping
and encouraging young performers. He assists them financially,
and gives them opportunities to perform and record. Nine of
them are featured on this CD, produced under Bowerman’s
own independent label, Champ Hill Records . It begins with an
Isolde Fantasy, a very pleasant scaling downof
the love themes for violin and piano. The performers are Diana
Galvydyte and Anna Peletsis respectively.
Themes and variations dominate the album, from an original hymn
tune and variations for piano solo, to a Fantasy on a Theme
of Elgar for violin and piano, to a Fantasy on the hymn
“Abide With Me” performed by the Bronte Quartet.
One can hear much of Brahms in Bowerman’s approach to
variation writing. His first Cello Sonata, written on
a beach vacation in Antigua, is performed by its dedicatee,
Bridget MacRae, and pianist Julian Milford. An Elegy
for piano, and the Wildbrooks Suite for flute and piano,
round out the album. The music is easy to listen to, and rouses
one’s interest in hearing his first CD, A Fantasy Idyll
In a recent interview in Fanfare magazine, the composer responded
to one critic who said “Bowerman writes to please”.
“I thought what does that mean? Of course I write to please.
Isn’t that what composers are supposed to do? But now
I realize that perhaps they are not supposed to please. I write
to please myself, and hopefully others who might like to listen.”
Initially one is tempted to think of this as a vanity recording,
but given Bowerman’s level of activity and achievement,
it might be better labeled as an accomplished recording.