Music for recorder and piano by: GEOFFREY
POOLE, MICHAEL BALL, ALAN BULLARD, ARNOLD COOKE, DAVID ELLIS, ANTHONY GILBERT,
JOHN GOLLAND, WALTER LEIGH, KEVIN MALONE, NICHOLAS MARSHALL, ALAN RAWSTHORNE,
FORSYTH CD FCD001/2 £19.99
available From Forsyth Brothers Limited, 126 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2GR
+44(0)161 834 3281 +44(0)161 834 0630 e-mail:
Over a number of years Forsyths of Manchester have published a considerable
amount of new music for recorder, much of it composed for and first performed
by John Turner. Together with pianist Peter Lawson, John has recently recorded
a programme of music from the Forsyth catalogue issued on this 2 CD set.
Most of the pieces date from between 1968 and 1998 but the inclusion of works
by Alan Rawsthorne and Walter Leigh extend the period of composition to almost
Some of the music has become quite well-known already, and popular works
such as Geoffrey Poole's Skally Skarekrow's Whistling Book, Alan Bullard's
Recipes and John Golland's New World Dances represent the lighter
side of the repertoire, though all have their more serious moments. John
Golland is also represented by his four movement Divertissement in
which the expressive Air is the emotional centre.
It is very welcome to have a recording of Alan Rawsthorne's Suite (1939)
and of Walter Leigh's brief but haunting Air composed just three years
later. Among the shorter pieces in the programme, Douglas Steele's
Song inhabits a similar musical world to Leigh's Air. Nicholas
Marshall's Caprice and Arnold Cooke's Capriccio are, as their
titles suggest, more lively, but there is considerable contrast between their
Anthony Gilbert's Farings are a collection of eight short pieces which,
although composed over a period of thirteen years, have a unity of purpose
- all but one were composed to celebrate birthdays - and also a musical unity
created by Gilbert's very individual approach to the recorder.
Published only recently, Michael Ball's Prospero's Music is a substantial
and impressive work inspired by Shakespeare's "The Tempest", in which the
composer has captured the magical atmosphere of the play in very original
music that makes considerable demands on both players.
A Book of Song and Dance by Robin Walker contains some disarmingly
simple yet evocative settings of such well known tunes as Shenandoah
and Tired Boy and a number of solo pieces both for recorder and piano
that are fully in the spirit of folk music. The collection was first performed
in York Minster, and requires a large acoustic for best effect. This has
been achieved synthetically but very convincingly in this recording.
If many of the pieces recorded here were dedicated to John Turner, the Four
Diversions find him as composer of these four popular miniatures for
descant recorder and piano, dedicated to David and Gill Munrow.
John Turner's continued encouragement of composers to write works for the
recorder resulted in two new pieces being specially composed for this recording.
David Ellis's jazz inspired Shadows in Blue, which makes use of sopranino,
bass and tenor recorders with piano, and Kevin Malone's Saturday
Soundtrack, a wacky journey through the sound-world that accompanies
the likes of Tom and Jerry! Probably even more effective, because of its
potential visual impact, in live performance, cartoon mouse ears are nevertheless
As the dedicatee and first performer of much of the music on these discs,
John Turner brings considerable authority to the performances. In Peter Lawson,
John is joined by a musical colleague of many years, whose understanding
of the special role of the pianist in this repertoire is most evident.
A programme that more clearly demonstrates what contrasts of musical style
and texture are achievable in contemporary music for recorder and piano would
be difficult to compile.
There is no doubt that however enjoyable these discs are to listen to, they
will not only bring a considerable and important collection of twentieth
century recorder music to a wider audience, but hopefully encourage more
players to explore this repertoire for themselves. It has always been John
Turner's intention that the lives of such works extend beyond his own first
and subsequent performances of them and indeed many are finding their way
into the repertoire. This is thus a significant and worthwhile recording
on any number of counts.
Andrew C D Mayes
John Turner has staged a one-man revival of the recorder, commissioning,
recording, encouraging and enthusing wherever he goes. This collection is
one of his most significant contributions.
A collection of two CDs of music for recorder and piano or solo recorder
(in fact largely for the two instruments) may suggest an endurance test.
In practice such is the variety of expression on these discs and the brevity
of the individual movements ones endurance is hardly ever tested. The market
for this set will be further enhanced by the AEB (so I understand) having
selected some of the pieces as set works for the exams.
GEOFFREY POOLE Skally Skarekrow's
Whistling Book ([7.28] 1 Clouds (with silver linings) 2
Spring Breezes 3 Sunshine 4 Hailstones)
A masterfully varied suite from the one-time choral conductor. They run the
gamut from tumbling clatter hurling notes around the hall, to rumba, to
brightly-lit Shostakovich but began with Clouds: second cousin to
Rubbra's affecting Plusieurs Regrets.
MICHAEL BALL Prospero's
Music [9.49]. From a Scottish skirl and snap to sections reminiscent
of Shostakovich and De Falla (nice blend!) to the barbed dissonance of the
central section it is evident that Ball's is a fine imagination.
ALAN BULLARD Recipes ([9.45]
1 Coffee and Croissants 2 Barbecue Blues (when the fire goes
out) 3 Prawn Paella 4 Special Chop-Suey 5. Fish and Chips)
These are high quality musical postcards: Continental serenade, hurdy-gurdy
sentimentality, purring and bubbling jazziness, a Carmen fantasy, Chinoiserie
with a dash of the puys of the Auvergne and a final knotted hanky knees-up.
ALAN RAWSTHORNE Suite ([6.01]
1 Sarabande 2 Fantasia 3 Air 4 Jig)
These pieces are all very brief with a Lambertian elegy, an insistently cool
sea-chanty, a Bach-like air and a jig that seems to conjure up the phantasmal
dance of a one-legged man (remember Delius's Beggars' Dance from
Caprice (1.39) reveals a lyric voice yielding
Waltonian/Finzi gentleness while DOUGLAS
STEELE's Song (3.22) gains height from sorrow to
joy; comforting and strong music.
ROBIN WALKER A Book of Song and
Dance ([17.57] 1 Song 1 2 My Luv 3 Idyll 4 Song
2 5 Rite 6 Dance I 7 Canon 8 Shenandoah 9
Dance2 10 Clark Sanders 11 Tired Boy)
Loneliness and solitude stalk these pages from echoey Gaelic and traditional
songs of the capercaillie ilk, to highland snows, steely piano sparks, brusque
and bruising, breathy solitude, lullabies and at least one rather fine
contribution to the musical literature of Chinese evocations.
WALTER LEIGH's Air (his
last composition) is artfully artless in its winsome simplicity.
Capriccio is of slightly greater complexity though still lyrical
but with a sprinkling Rawsthornian pepper and recollections of the Nielsen
ANTHONY GILBERT Farings
(1 Mr. Pitfield's Pibroch 2 Eighty for William Alwyn 3 Arbor
Avium Canentium 4 BatterFeet 5 Slow Down After Fifty 6
Miss Carroll her Lullabye 7 MidWales Lightwhistle Automatic
8 Chant-au-Clair). This is much harder work with stop-start, strangulation
occasional, Shostakovich-like intensity, flitters and shards of music, sparks
and shrapnel. A much more approachable accent is adopted for the infectious
dance rhythms of the final chant-au-clair; clarity indeed and at last!
JOHN TURNER Four Diversions
(1 Intrada 2 Waltz 3 Aubade 4 Hornpipe). John
Turner's reserved positive lyricism in the Intrada is in touch with the English
pastoral school. The waltz is like a fairground roundabout. Turner's tunes
are good and flightily lofted. The summer mornings of the hornpipe are a
dancing step closer to Grainger and Malcolm Arnold
DAVID ELLIS's Shadows in Blue
holds up broken Schoenbergian mirrors to reflect the greeny-blue depths
of the sea.
Divertissement (1 Entrée 2 Gavotte 3
Air 4 Gigue)
has a cheeky entree, a halting gavotte seeming to mimic a pensioned-off music
box, an air that has the romance cold upland waters and a jolly gigue.
JOHN GOLLAND New World Dances
1 Ragtime 2 Blues 3 Bossa Nova. These jump through
hoops you would expect given the titles. The vaulting is done engagingly.
The virulent tunefulness of ragtime is memorable. The finale Bossa Nova struts
out of West Side Story.
KEVIN MALONE's Saturday Soundtrack
is one of the least attractive works here. Its kaleidoscopic melodrama,
hits, blows, growls and monkey whoops, splashes of dies irae and samplings
from here and there do not impress.
Nice slim case and good notes including a list of the subscribers.