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Alan BUSH (1900-1995)
Meditation on a German Song of 1848 op. 22 (1944) [10:01]
Le Quatorze Juillet - Esquisse op. 38 (1943) [3:40]
Lyric Interlude op. 26 (1944) [16:43]
Three Raga Melodies op. 59 (1961) [9:23]
Two Preludes and Fugues op. 108 (1986) [9:51]
Serenade and Duet op. 111 (1986) [12:54]
Song and Dance op. 117A (1986) [3:35]
Adam Summerhayes (violin)
Catherine Summerhayes (piano)
No recording details given
MERIDIAN CDE84481 [66:48]

Bush's music continues, if slowly, to move into the sunlight. This is Meridian's second Bush chamber disc; the first being CDE84458 which was reviewed here. All the works on the present disc are for violin and piano duo or solo violin and feature the same two artists as on the first disc.

The German Song Meditation began life in 1941 as a work for violin and string orchestra. It was recast for these duo forces in 1944. It is rhapsodic-reflective, introspective and severe-teutonic piece and has an impressive if unsmiling gravitas. The words of the original song are printed in translation in the booklet.

Le Quatorze Juillet is for solo piano - a piece of stuttering ruthlessness and celebration. The title refers to the fall of the Bastille and quotes two revolutionary songs used by Miaskovsky in his Sixth Symphony, La Carmagnole and Ça Ira. The four-movement Lyric Interlude was the backdrop to the death in a car accident of one of Bush's daughters, Alice. It is another determined score in which the lamentation is filtered through a puritan's sensibility. This is reflected in the running and stuttering piano part and contrasts with occasional lyrical flight by the violin. Max Rostal - for many years a BBC regular - shaped this work as much as he had the German Song Meditation. It includes a short Allegretto Vivace which recalls the Second Violin Sonata by John Ireland (with whom Bush had an instructive correspondence) and has the composer lowering his considerable emotional reserve.

The typically severe Raga Melodies were written as part of his limbering up for writing his most accessible opera, The Sugar Reapers - one that must be recorded or broadcast again by the BBC. These Melodies are occluded and densely involved. The second of them Nadatha-Rangini Raga has Bush's typically stuttering and chafing rhythmic core. From his final productive phase come the two Preludes and Fugues. These are folksy, ingratiating and well-tempered. The fugues tend to congeal but Bush ensures his identity stamp is clearly in evidence. The Mixolydian one has a maritime skip in its step. The Scene and Duet is engagingly English-pastoral - almost Howells with a touch of Ireland - perhaps written with an eye to the greener pages in Bush's Nottingham Symphony. Another diptychal work ends the disc - Song and Dance. Again, the idiom is strongly green and English, gentle and questing with his jerky rhythmic progress to the fore in the Dance section.

The useful booklet notes by Adam Summerhayes are in English only. These are admirable and the same can be said of the playing and recording values.

Rob Barnett


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