MusicWeb

This is both a marvellous showcase disc for the formidable talents of Tamara Gries (née Herman) and an introduction to the profound talents of living Australian composer Stephen Cronin. The latter’s Suite for Recorder and Strings, dedicated to Ralph Vaughan Williams, is a minor masterpiece and would have sat well alongside the late Kenneth Leighton’s contribution to ASV’s recent survey of British recorder “concertos”. The brooding but lyrical melancholy of its extended central slow movement is, without question, on an artistic and emotional par with similar music by the aforementioned Leighton, plus some of the more austere inspirations of Finzi etc.

A leitmotif for the disc, one of neo-classical tunefulness, is the interpolation of movements from Rudolf Lerich’s likeable Sonata, between the more extended works. The Handel and Vivaldi pieces are probably much better known but still fit well with the disc’s programme without detracting from the new(er) music also being showcased. Markus Zahnhausen’s music inquieta reminds me, at least in places, of the Gaelic caoine, but the single most compulsive listening experience has to be Couperin’s gorgeous, flowing Barricades Mystérieuses (for harpsichord alone). A set of characterful English masques from 1600 completes the recital.

This is a wonderful disc for the recorder aficionado but it also ought to draw a much wider appeal. The Cronin Suite is both highly accessible and very moving (and well worthy of its inspiration) but all the “new” music here and much of the old is well worth your attention. Many performers are now doing full justice to the recorder as a serious instrument (the brilliant John Turner more than most in this country!) and Tamara Gries is to be congratulated on recording such an interesting, stimulating and ultimately moving selection of works

—Neil Horner