Music and Vision homepage



Chamber music amongst friends
and a CD of unusual interest



Record Box


Nestling around Mozart's enchanting Flute Quartet in D K285 in this programme are 20th century works that have required the sharp flick of a duster to stir them from slumber. Should we hurriedly claim some knowledge of Roussel and Bliss, it is unlikely that we know the first's Elpénor or Bliss' early Conversations. We may as well accept that few of us can have more than a sparse knowledge of a rapidly-disappearing century's chamber music. The problem does not lie with composers but with the sheer enormity of a century's contribution to a major category and the many divisions within it. Additionally, and most significantly, supply usually outstrips demand.

Conversations - Arco Baleno. Copyright (c) PKP productiesI'll declare now rather than later my immense respect for Arco Baleno's level of perception and commitment to this disparate group of pieces. Each work contains a seed that the group has collectively found worth resuscitation. Mozart's Flute Quartet receives both delicacy and precision to reveal its incredible sparkle. Roussel's capacity within his fanciful style of illustrating a story does so here, but without need for the story. Boudewijn Buckinx, a postmodernist, speaks of his art as requiring brevity, clarity and simplicity, which is faithfully followed in both music and title: AB basically indicates two sections, which are here unrelated. A small extract will demonstrate some of the composer's music and the restrictions he adopts. [Click for music.]

The Belgian Joseph Jongen maintains a link with today mostly through his organ music, which is far removed from his Serenade tendre, a gentle, almost sensuous piece of writing. Megane is from a composer striding with ease across the 'divides' and providing three pieces that fascinate even more when you tackle the programme note. Jan Huylebroeck is full of ideas. [Click for music.]

Arthur Bliss' composing career started experimentally and gradually veered towards a somewhat conformist style after his appointment as Master of the Queen's Music in 1953. Conversations from 1920 represents his period of flirting with ideas from the continent, and following up the excitement that stemmed from Stravinsky's post-Rite period. The last movement of this suite, In the Tube at Oxford Circus, cynically begs the question of development since 1920: which has moved the fastest, London Transport or Music? [Click for music.]


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October 6th 1999 


 << Music & Vision homepage              Banse sings Schumann >> 

Download realplayer G2 

To listen to the aural illustrations in this review,
you may need to download RealNetworks' realplayer G2.

Record Box is published every Wednesday.