Musical Pointers

My over-riding criterion for claiming valuable reading time from Musical Pointers’ visitors, and encouraging them to part with some of their hard earned cash, is that a new recording (or indeed an old one, because too much attention is devoted onto new releases) should be in some important way unique. That rules out many re-recordings of standard works in the popular Canon of masterpieces, which has no monopoly of fine music.

These two CDs have come my way as a spin-off from enjoyment of this famous piano duo’s revelatory recording of Schubert’s Trout Quintet together with the adagio of his String Quintet. In this special collection of British music they both satisfy my requirement in spades.

It is good to have opportunities to hear Anthony & Caroline both together and each separately. You won’t know too much on either disc, even if you’re a British contemporary music enthusiast. Goldstone & Clemmow’s fans (and they have many, world-wide) will know to expect exemplary presentation with illuminating liner notes, and these are no exceptions.

I generally jib at CD titles which are just handles to catch attention, but both are fully warranted here. The chosen composers to explore are represented by characteristic works of high quality and well planned variety; and the BrittenResonances disc does exactly that too, each item selected to reflect Britten’s musical world, teachers and friends. The only ones of the latter selection I knew well are Berkeley’s Preludes and Britten’s beautiful, reflective Night Piece, having played them for years and, with Goldstone, lamenting that Britten wrote so little for his own instrument solo; that reflecting his social commitment in taking on commissions.

Bridge is well represented by a Cobbett-influenced Fantasia and a far more dissonant Gargoyle; Stevenson, who works on the grand scale (his Passacaglia needs 80 mins) by a compact piece in tribute to Britten and his last opera. Less to my taste is the last of the ’70s studies by Matthews, Britten’s amanuensis in his final incapacity, in a rather relentless Reich-like minimalist mode.

Nearly all the Resonances was recorded at the RNCM in Manchester, save for Britten’s Little Idyll, recorded for the first time at the couple’s usual recording venue, the village church (which I once chanced upon) at their home of Alkborough, where they keep a Steinway at the ready (pictured). We all have too much to read on the Net, so I opt to keep this brief, but pointing out that The Divine Art, which like Musical Pointers makes the most of the internet’s hyperlink capability, has a splendidly organised and maintained website, in which you can click onto a page full of unabridged reviews of Explorations at http://www.divine-art.com/CD/rev25024.htm.

Buy both these CDs, add some of these artists’ releases to your Schubert collection, and you will not have any regrets!

—Peter Grahame Woolf