All my experiences of Miriam Hyde’s music have been
positive. Her excellent piano
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.