Bedford: My mother, my sister and I

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bedford
LABELS: Classic Print
WORKS: My mother, my sister and I
PERFORMER: Mary Wiegold, Evelyn Tubb, Jacky Barron (soprano); synthesizer
CATALOGUE NO: CPVP 003
The information supplied with this disc describes My mother, my sister and I as ‘music theatre based on the autobiography of the suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst’. I’ve no idea what the visual side of this 26-minute piece entails; what we actually have here is a cycle of six songs sung by the work’s three protagonists: Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, the latter of whom parts company from her mother and sister over her belief that the suffragettes should get involved in the class struggle and be prepared to go to prison.

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David Bedford has been doing this kind of thing for a long time, and his sequence of solos, duos and trios shows all the word-setting and structural skills expected of a craftsman of his calibre. While in keeping with the subject matter, his broadly post-Eislerian idiom doesn’t generate particularly memorable melodies; and the accompanying synthesized ‘orchestra’ makes less inventive play with its range of resources inspired by popular musics of the suffragette period (Salvation Army and brass bands, music hall and so on) than I expected. Mary Wiegold, Evelyn Tubb and Jacky Barron nevertheless sing Alison Powell’s text with stylistically appropriate clarity and commitment. Keith Potter