Friday, January 27, 2017

Edmund Rubbra - Piano Trios; etc. (Endymion Ensemble)


Composer: Edmund Rubbra
  1. Piano Trio in One Movement, Op. 68
  2. Meditazioni sopra 'Cœurs Désolés', Op. 67
  3. Phantasy for Two Violins and Piano, Op. 16
  4. Sonata in C for Oboe and Piano, Op. 100: I. Con moto
  5. Sonata in C for Oboe and Piano, Op. 100: II. Elegy (Lento)
  6. Sonata in C for Oboe and Piano, Op. 100: III. Presto
  7. Suite "The Buddha", Op. 64 (arr. Adrian Cruft): I. Prince Gautama
  8. Suite "The Buddha", Op. 64 (arr. Adrian Cruft): II. The Peasant Girl
  9. Suite "The Buddha", Op. 64 (arr. Adrian Cruft): III. The Ascetics
  10. Suite "The Buddha", Op. 64 (arr. Adrian Cruft): IV. The Chariot Ride
  11. Suite "The Buddha", Op. 64 (arr. Adrian Cruft): V. The Buddha
  12. Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 138: I. Tempo moderato e deliberato
  13. Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 138: II. Allegretto scherzando
  14. Duo for Cor Anglais and Piano, Op. 156

Endymion Ensemble
Krysia Osostowicz, violin (1, 3, 7-13)
Jane Salmon, cello (1, 7-13)
Michael Dussek, piano (1-6, 12-14)
Melinda Maxwell, oboe (4-11) & cor anglais (14)
Catherine Manson, violin (3, 7-11)
Helen Keen, flute (7-11)

Date: 2000
Label: Dutton



Some readers may be surprised at my enthusiasm for Edmund Rubbra (1901-86) and for this splendid collection of his chamber music. I listen to a lot of contemporary music in which the sound and its colouring are of primary importance, and the actual notes, maybe random or fixed by numerical schemata, are of minor interest to their composers. For Rubbra, an unrepentant tonal composer to the end, the actual notes and their key relationships are paramount; he can have a modulation which catches your breath like one of Schubert's. Development of his material was important; always logical, but he allowed it to lead him along unplanned pathways. His prevailing mood is serious, and his instrumentation can sound drab and unimaginative; he had no time for 'advanced techniques'. So his world is one of his own, and his music has an instantly recognisable, consistent personality which is evident throughout this generously filled CD of instrumental music, played by the Endymion Ensemble, our resident group in Blackheath.

The Phantasy (1927) is for two violins with piano, an unusual combination. It progresses steadily with a dignity which is characteristic of Rubbra. His grave, ceremonial Duo for Cor Anglais and Piano (1980) inhabits the same world, as do the 1949 Meditazioni for oboe (here), which I used to enjoy playing in its original version for treble recorder. The beautiful three movement Oboe Sonata Op 100 (1958) is one of Rubbra's more popular works, delivered here in an exemplary account by Melinda Maxwell with Endymion's staunch pianist, who plays in every item save for a little suite from his music for a radio play The Buddha, given here with flute, oboe and string trio.

The meat is the inclusion of both Rubbra's Piano Trios played here by Krysia Osostowicz, Jane Salmon & Michael Dussek (Op 68 of 1950 in one movement, and Op 138 in two - its date not supplied). The latter reflects 'a particularly joyful occasion' - the 21st birthday of the Gruenberg/Pleeth/Rubbra Trio - ends with a relaxed allegretto scherzando.

The CD is well recorded in a London church by Tony Faulkner to Dutton's high standard, and the informative notes are by Martin Anderson. Rubbra's Violin Sonatas are on Dutton CDLX 7101. £8.50

-- Peter Grahame WoolfMusicWeb International

More review:


Edmund Rubbra (23 May 1901 – 14 February 1986) was a British composer. He composed both instrumental and vocal works for soloists, chamber groups and full choruses and orchestras. He was greatly esteemed by fellow musicians and was at the peak of his fame in the mid-20th century. The most famous of his pieces are his eleven symphonies. Jis output as a whole is less celebrated today than would have been expected from its sheer merit and from his early popularity. As an author, Rubbra wrote numerous articles during his lifetime, about both his own music and that of others.


Endymion, formerly Endymion Ensemble, is an English chamber music ensemble, founded in 1979 and dedicated to contemporary classical music. It has built a secure reputation across a broad and often adventurous repertoire. Unusually for chamber groups so well established, Endymion retains most of its original players. These performers now number among the best soloists and chamber musicians in Europe, including Mark van de Wiel, Stephen Stirling, Melinda Maxwell, Michael Dussek and Chi-chi Nwanoku.


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