Nicholas Marshall was born in 1942 in Plymouth, England. He studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and the Royal College of Music and had lessons with Sir Lennox Berkeley as well. He has directed music festivals, taught horn at the College of Arts at Darlington, and composed several children’s works including two operas. His music is mostly tonal; any dissonances are very gentle. His textures are uncluttered, and there’s a welcome simplicity to his ideas. I don’t mean to damn him with faint praise, because there is much that’s good, but the songs do tend to sound the same after a while. The melodies are singable and well crafted but not quite inspiring. The Birds, for tenor, recorder, and piano, is the strongest set of songs; the poems are by Hardy, Yeats, Tennyson, and others.
‘Plaint’ is a short, restrained, pleasant melody for cello and piano. The Recorder Concerto has an oddly Shostakovich-like theme in I. The Manchester Chamber Ensemble is actually a string quartet, and it doesn’t give the recorder a plush enough setting. I would like to hear the concerto expanded for a true chamber orchestra, and a little percussion would add some much-needed punch to III. Even if the recorder isn’t the most naturally expressive instrument, I enjoyed hearing its chance to shine in a more modern setting. The performances are all polished, though the cellist, Smedley, has weak intonation. Notes are in English with texts included.