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English Music for Viola and Piano

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Customer Reviews

Warm, satisfying music from England

This recording features music by four English composers all born within a generation of each other. Each has a different way of telling their story, in some cases greatly influenced by their life experiences (yes, this seems like an obvious statement, but you can really hear some of the strife and longing from his wartime experiences as a POW in Germany from 1914-1918 in the Bainton piece).

The first piece is by Edgar Bainton, and the work itself has a distinct Cesar Franck feel to it, particularly the first movement, which features a very interesting almost solo piano interval that really generates a sense of isolation. The second movement starts longingly and warmly, giving way to a more emotionally complicated but uplifting third movement.

The second piece is Holland’s Suite in D for Viola and Piano, which begins with some very energetic music and develops into what is initially a gently but intense conversation between the two instruments, growing every more reflective and painfully reminiscent in the second movement, the end section of which uses the viola’s natural warm range to give us somber melodies supported by deep chords and runs from the piano’s lower register. The finale brings the piece to a very satisfying and complete close.

Next is a very short and soul-searching piece from York Bowen that, according to the well written liner notes, remains unpublished. This would be a wonderful work to hear in person, so here’s hoping that someone publishes it!

The last work on this disc is by Granville Bantock and is sub-titled “Colleen”. The themes in the work have some relationships to various Irish themes, but the work as a whole is evocative, pleasantly satisfying in a deeply healing way (particularly the second movement), finishing with a rollicking obviously Celtic-influenced Vivace – hard not to tap your foot to it, and leaves the listener feeling pretty darn good.

This disc is a very satisfying musical experience. Sarah-Jane Bradley’s viola is comforting and expressive, and Christian Wilson’s piano is a very well-balanced companion in each of the works. I enjoyed this recording very much. Recommended.

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English Music for Viola and Piano, Sarah-Jane Bradley
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