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unpretentious and melodiousJuly 27 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
The English composer Edward Bache died in 1858 at the age of 24, and everything on this disc is a first-ever recording. It is remarkably fluent and pleasant music, and while it has a backward-looking quality -- more Schubert and Mendelssohn than Schumann and Brahms -- it is always a delight to listen to. Perhaps the first movement of the Piano Trio, at almost 11 minutes, goes on longer than it needs to, but the thematic material moves along so easily that it can hardly be said to tire the ear. The other two movements, both shorter, are melodious and well disposed among the three instruments, and the Dutton sound is characteristically clear and warm. The 15-minute Duo Brillante for violin and piano is a single-movement piece in 10 sections, the middle four of which are variations on an aria-like theme that doesn't quite have the plangency of Bellini, say, but is lovely nonetheless. As the program booklet points out, the piece has the feel of one of Liszt's fantasias on an operatic theme, though the mode is less glittery than Liszt can sometimes be. Nevertheless, the two soloists here from the English Trio, Jane Faulkner (violin) and Timothy Ravenscroft (piano) have plenty of opportunity to display their considerable skills. Ravenscroft also ably accompanies the mezzo Yvonne Howard in Bache's settings of six German songs, at least two of which had been set by Schubert and Schumann. The settings are straightforward and unaffected, with the melody seeming to come naturally from the syntax, though not as memorably as Schubert, say, in "Fruhlingsglaube." Still, there's nothing strained or awkward about the setting, and the piano parts have their independent textures that fit the melodies well. The final song is about a dying child who hears angels singing her serenade -- a serenade the mother can't hear (child sings stanzas 1 and 3, the mother stanza 2). It sounds maudlin, but it is set so unaffectedly, and the piano part is simply yet imaginatively written, that it is quite moving. Yvonne Howard sings these songs as if she believes in them, with a lovely tone quality, with just a touch of vibrato under pressure, but really nothing to complain about. One wonders what Bache might have done, had he lived on to hear the mature music of Brahms and Wagner. All in all, a lovely program, well done.