All my experiences of Miriam Hyde’s music have been positive. Her excellent piano concertos
were recorded back in 1975 but her 2005 death prompted ABC to reissue them, and their unforced romanticism is fresh and exciting. Though she is best remembered for her piano music, Cala has now produced an album devoted to her works for flute and piano which, more than most of her compositions, take nature as a guiding light, as the descriptive titles show.
is a delightfully aerial piece and well deserves its status as the album title. Showing strong reminiscences of Debussy – she was nothing if not a romanticist-post impressionist, if the phrase means much –its touching terpsichorean elements are balanced by the fluidity of Hyde’s melodic conception. The Five Solos for Flute and Piano
come from different periods in her life, the earliest from 1936 and the last from 1962. This might imply rather a disjunctive collection but actually the pieces are very much complementary. The bell chimes in Wedding Morn
are initially pensive – perhaps appropriately - but gradually become more open-hearted whilst The Little Juggler
is a taut character study and very witty. Hyde’s own favourite was Marsh Birds
– there’s a skylark evocation audible – and one can understand why, given its rarefied and rather beautiful texture.
The Flute Sonata was written between 1961 and 1962, mostly in trains, the notes relate, as she travelled between appointments as a music examiner. There’s nothing at all pretentious here, rather the music is piquant, engaging and somewhat Gallic. With a genial Pastorale
and a rustic-sounding spirited finale it makes for a charming listen. The remainder of the programme is given over to nature scenes, all pretty short, that vary from autumnal to spry – the Dryad’s Dance
is one of the liveliest pieces in this set. They are all graced by her inventive warmth and expert balance of material between the two instruments. The music here lasts 47-minutes and the remainder of the disc is taken up with Hyde’s poetry, read very sensitively by Gerard Maguire. Like her music, the poetry takes nature scenes – seasonal, scenic, as a principal focus. It’s an unusual way to end the recital but expands one’s appreciation for the breadth of her artistic inspiration.
Flautist Bridget Bolliger has all the ingredients necessary, tonally, technically and expressively, to convey the music’s attractive mood setting and Andrew West lives up to his reputation as an outstandingly sympathetic accompanist and colleague. Attractively recorded and annotated, too.