Musical Opinion

Metier’s reputation as a supporter of little-known composers is estimable, and in their different ways the next three discs fall into this category. Priaulx Rainier and Sadie Harrison are separated by several generations, but they settled in Britain from South Africa and Australia respectively, combining composition with teaching activities. Chamber music has featured prominently in their work. This year we are celebrating the Centenary of Priaulx Rainier’s birth and it is to be hoped that her most successful piece, Quanta, for Oboe and String Trio, will be made available of CD, perhaps a transfer of the excellent LP version made by Janet Craxton and the London String Trio. The emphasis in this fine METIER disc is on her work from the 1940s and 1950s, with the Suite for Clarinet and Piano evincing a distinct neoclassical tendency. The Viola Sonata was written at a time when the viola was only occasionally featured as a solo instrument, while the Five Pieces for Piano show her gradually adopting a species of serial technique. Her publisher is Schott, who will know more of the Centenary performances.

Sadie Harrison has clearly absorbed more recent developments, but there is a similar tendency to find an individual response to the most radical forms of expression. No Title Required, for five players, is probably the most demanding, and consequently the most interesting piece on the disc. Three Expositions is more abstract, but sustains the solo Flute line very successfully. After Colonna, for Cello and Piano, was inspired by a 15th-century romance. It has the form of a three-movement sonata, but is based on a strong narrative outline.

—Denby Richards