The Sons of the Morning
Posterity must be grateful that Ivor Gurney managed to write down as much music as he did, before he was struck down by mental illness in his early 30s. Besides showing what a fine pianist he must have been, Gurney’s Five Preludes display radical, forward-looking gestures, along with his post-Romantic Anglo-Saxon sensibility: there is something of Scriabin in the music’s supple phrasing and sharp-focus clarity of chromatic harmony.
Stephen Banfield’s arrangement of the ‘Rockingham’ chorale prelude, originally for organ, is neatly counterbalanced here by the ‘Song 13’ prelude by Vaughan Williams – whose The Lake in the Mountains (expanded from the film score of 49th Parallel) suggests he was a more fluent composer for the piano than legend would have it. Further, Vally Lasker’s transcription of Job, made for rehearsals of this magnificent ‘masque for dancing’, is so skilled that it almost amounts to a performing version in its own right.
Iain Burnside presents impressive solo credentials: the serious technical demands of the Job arrangement cause him no problems, while his flair for conjuring orchestra-like colours from the keyboard is of the very highest standard of play.