Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Arthur Bliss - Oboe Quintet; Piano Quartet; Viola Sonata (Maggini Quartet; Peter Donohoe; Nicholas Daniel)


Information

Composer: Arthur Bliss
  1. Piano Quartet: I. Poco adagio e espressivo
  2. Piano Quartet: II. Intermezzo: Tempo di Mazurka
  3. Piano Quartet: III. Allegro furioso
  4. Sonata for Viola and Piano: I. Moderato
  5. Sonata for Viola and Piano: II. Andante
  6. Sonata for Viola and Piano: III. Furiant
  7. Sonata for Viola and Piano: IV. Coda
  8. Oboe Quintet: I. Assai sostenuto - Allegro assai agitato
  9. Oboe Quintet: II. Andante con moto
  10. Oboe quintet: III. Vivace

Maggini Quartet
Laurence Jackson, violin I (1-3, 8-10)
David Angel, violin II (8-10)
Martin Outram, viola (1-10)
Michal Kaznowski, cello (1-3, 8-10)
&
Peter Donohoe, piano (1-3)
Julian Rolton, piano (4-7)
Nicholas Daniel, oboe (8-10)

Date: 2001
Label: Naxos
http://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.555931

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Review

Another accomplished and appealing Bliss triptych from the Maggini and friends

Only last October I gave a guarded welcome to Chamber Domaine’s world première recording of Bliss’s 1915 Piano Quartet. Now comes this far more commanding successor from the Maggini Quartet and Peter Donohoe, who locate an underlying toughness of argument and urgency of expression in both outer movements to make one regret all the more forcefully the budding composer’s decision to withdraw the piecefollowing his demobilisation in 1919. 

Otherwise unrepresented in the domestic catalogue, the Viola Sonata waswritten in 1933 for Lionel Tertis. It’s a substantial, well-crafted work, impassioned and thoughtful, and culminating in an extended coda that ponders wistfully on what has gone before. If Bliss’s inspiration lacks the distinctive melodic profile and organic mastery of, say,Walton’s Viola Concerto of four years previously (a cruel comparison, maybe, but apparently Bliss did think of his Sonata in terms of a concerto rather than a chamber composition), the work as a whole is still worth getting to know. The Maggini’sviolist, Martin Outram, makes commendably light of the solo part’s at times hair-raising demands and Donohoe offers exemplary support.

For me, however, the jewel in this anthology is the Oboe Quintet that Bliss composed in 1927 for Leon Goossens. Elegance and resourcefulness are the watchwords in the first two movements, whose bitter-sweet lyricism forms an effective contrast with the exuberant festivities of the finale (where Bliss introduces the Irish folk tune, Connelly’s Jig). Nicholas Daniel and the Maggini give a spry, ideally proportioned reading, more intrepid in its expressive range than than that of Gordon Hunt and the Tale Quartet. (I also hope Hyperion has plans to restore the Nash Ensemble’s marvellous version on Helios, 4/85 – nla.) 

Production-values throughout are of a high order. Very warmly recommended.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / SOUND: ***
MusicWeb International  RECORDING OF THE MONTH

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Arthur Bliss (2 August 1891 – 27 March 1975) was an English composer and conductor. After the First World War, he quickly became known as an unconventional and modernist composer, but within the decade he began to display a more traditional and romantic side in his music. In Bliss's later years, his work was respected but was thought old-fashioned, and it was eclipsed by the music of younger colleagues such as William Walton and Benjamin Britten. Since his death, his compositions have been well represented on record, and many of his better-known works remain in the repertoire of British orchestras.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Bliss

***

Peter Donohoe (born 18 June 1953 in Manchester, England) is an English classical pianist. Donohoe exclusively signed with EMI Records in 1988, beginning a relationship that lasted until 1993, producing a major collection of CDs, which tend largely towards 20th century composers. Since 1993, he has made many recordings on a freelance basis with Deutsche Gramophon, Hyperion, Chandos, BMG, Warner and Naxos. His series of recordings devoted to British works for piano and orchestra was inaugurated in 2001, growing to a catalogue of 14 works.

The Maggini Quartet is a British string quartet, formed in 1988. The Quartet's name derives from the famous 16th century Brescian violin maker Giovanni Paolo Maggini. Maggini Quartet is known for championing the British repertoire, and has made many CD recordings published through publishers such as Naxos Records. In addition to their concert activity, the members of the Quartet have an international reputation as chamber music coaches. Its current members are Julian Leaper (Violin 1), David Angel (Violin 2), Martin Outram (Viola) and Michal Kaznowski (Cello).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggini_Quartet
http://maggini.net/

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