International Record Review

There is something to be said for planning the content of records around composers who were members of the same family, for the juxtaposition can be more than merely interesting. This is especially true when the music is not, for whatever reasons, often encountered, but a danger is that not all members of the family might be equally gifted and the lesser figures get their music on the disc for non-artistic reasons. I welcome a new CD on the Metier label of music by Elizabeth Maconchy and her daughter Nicola Lefanu, for mother and daughter are equally significant figures in British music and yet inhabit very different artistic milieux. The music of Lefanu is considerably more ‘modern’ than that of her mother, yet all of this music is eminently worthwhile. The album is called ‘Reflections’ – the title of a piece from 1960 by Maconchy – and there are seven other works here, three by mother and four by daughter. They range from a tiny Miniature for solo oboe by Maconchy to a chamber cantata by Lefanu lasting just under 25 minutes, but including Maconchy’s Morning, Noon and Night (effectively a large-scale sonata for solo harp) and two songs by Lefanu, A Travelling Spirit, lasting five minutes overall and scored for voice and recorder. These very varied works are performed by the eight musicians who make up Okeanos, a recently formed new music group. Mother and daughter are very well served by them, and the recordings are excellent. Texts (with translations) are included and the notes are by Lefanu. There is a lovely picture of her standing in front of a portrait of her mother, who died in 1994 aged 87 (her centenary falls next year). Lefanu is married to composer David Lumsdaine, whose Variations for Orchestra (premiered at the Royal Festival Hall at an SPNM concert about 46 years ago) certainly deserves revival.

—Robert Matthew-Walker