Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hamilton Harty - String Quartets; Piano Quintet (Goldner String Quartet; Piers Lane)


Composer: Hamilton Harty

  1. Piano Quintet in F major, Op. 12: 1. Allegro
  2. Piano Quintet in F major, Op. 12: 2. Vivace
  3. Piano Quintet in F major, Op. 12: 3. Lento
  4. Piano Quintet in F major, Op. 12: 4. Allegro con brio
  5. String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 5: 1. Allegro ma non troppo
  6. String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 5: 2. Vivace sempre leggiero
  7. String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 5: 3. Lento
  8. String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 5: 4. Allegro con brio - Molto vivace
  1. String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 1: 1. Allegro con brio
  2. String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 1: 2. Vivace
  3. String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 1: 3. Andante pastorale
  4. String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 1: 4. Allegro vivace

Piers Lane, piano
Goldner String Quartet
Dene Olding, violin
Dimity Hall, violin
Irina Morozova, viola
Julian Smiles, cello

Date: 2012
Label: Hyperion



Early chamber works from the Hallé’s inter-war conductor

Sir Hamilton Harty is best remembered nowadays as chief conductor of the Hallé in the inter-war years, a vintage period for the orchestra. Yet earlier in his career he was active as a composer. On Chandos there is a box of his orchestral music including his most popular work, An Irish Symphony, and here, most valuably, we have three of his important chamber works, written between 1900 and 1904, when he was in his mid-twenties. The works are presented in reverse order, with the Piano Quintet of 1904 coming first. In a way that is a pity when one of the few flaws in the set is obvious from the start, for the piano is balanced in front of the quartet, which is consigned to the background. That is all the more distracting when Harty’s chordal piano-writing is rather heavy. None the less, it is a fine work, one of the best in this medium by a British composer, with the first-movement development building up to a powerful, passionate climax. The second-movement scherzo brings out Harty’s Irish side in its dance rhythms, while the slow movement is easily lyrical, with a Brahmsian flavour. The finale is the most enjoyable movement of all, again with an Irish flavour in its ‘travelling’ themes, leading up to a joyous conclusion.

The Second String Quartet of 1902 brings an Irish tune for a second subject, leading to a second-movement scherzo in a playful 6/8 rhythm, again very Irish. The slow movement brings a soaring violin melody in the middle, while the finale is light and tuneful in triple time. The First Quartet of 1900, which comes on the second disc, is more relaxed and more conventional, unashamedly tuneful all the way through, regularly with an Irish flavour. The second-movement scherzo is a chattering moto perpetuo and, after a folk-like slow movement, the finale comes in a swinging triple time.

Piers Lane plays immaculately with great sympathy; and though the Goldner Quartet are not the richest-toned group, they too play warmly to bring out the finest qualities of the music. Altogether a delightful disc of music neglected for far too long.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: **** / RECORDING: *****


Hamilton Harty (4 December 1879 – 19 February 1941) was an Irish composer, conductor, pianist and organist. In his career as a conductor, which began in 1904, Harty was particularly noted as an interpreter of the music of Berlioz. From 1920 to 1933 he was the chief conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, which he returned to the high standards and critical acclaim. During his conducting career, Harty made some recordings with his orchestras. Though few of Harty's compositions continued to be regularly programmed in the concert hall, several of his works have been recorded for compact disc.


Piers Lane (born 8 January 1958) is an Australian classical pianist. He graduated with a Medal of Excellence from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where his teacher was Nancy Weir. His performance career has taken him to more than 40 countries. His concerto repertoire exceeds 75 works. Lane has an extensive discography on the Hyperion label and has also recorded for EMI, Decca, BMG, Lyrita and Unicorn-Kanchana. Lane is a well-known voice on BBC Radio 3, having written and presented more than 100 programs, including a 54-part series called The Piano.


Goldner String Quartet is an Australian string quartet formed in 1995 in honour of Richard Goldner, the founder of Musica Viva Australia. The Quartet consists of Dene Olding and Dimity Hall (violins), Irina Morozova (viola; an ex-pupil of Goldner) and Julian Smiles (cello). Olding and Morozova are married, as are Hall and Smiles. The Goldners have played throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well in the UK, USA, Korea, Finland, France and Italy. In 1997 the Goldner String Quartet made its debut at the Wigmore Hall in London, and have since appeared there regularly.


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