Alan Bush: Three Concert Studies, Op. 31; Sonatine; Summer Valley; Concert-Piece,

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Three Concert Studies, Op. 31; Sonatine; Summer Valley; Concert-Piece,
PERFORMER: Adam Summerhayes (violin, viola), Catherine Summerhayes (piano), Joseph Spooner (cello)
How long before we do justice to Alan Bush, forgive him for being a lifelong Marxist? Or was it, at a time when Britten was reviled for his ‘cleverness’, Bush’s formidable intellect that critics and public distrusted? Grove 5 in 1954 compared him, favourably in every respect, with Tippett, Walton, Rawsthorne and Rubbra, who respectively have 50, 86, 56 and 96 works in the current CD catalogue. Until this disc arrived Bush had nine. There is very little British chamber music of the Thirties that approaches the turbulent intensity, passionate eloquence and intellectual rigour of his Concert-Piece, very little from the Forties that can be compared with his Three Concert Studies for exciting economical power and an expressiveness all the more profound for its restraint. How good to learn that in his late seventies (the Viola Sonatina) he had lost none of his cunning or fantasy – it is a piece that demands intent listening – and that at nearly 90 (Summer Valley) he could achieve such beautiful serenity from resourceful use of the simplest means: a motif of three notes. The performers’ conviction that this is important music is utterly compelling. The disc is labelled, praise be, ‘Vol. 1’. Michael Oliver