WORKS: Bridging the Day; Gala Water; Entre chien et loup; Iasg; Sonata for Cello & Piano,
PERFORMER: Robert Irvine (cello), Sally Beamish (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1171
There is some fine, stirring music here. Interestingly though, it’s Beamish’s husband Robert Irvine’s instrument, the cello, which tends to bring out the best in her as a composer; the solo piano works (which Beamish plays herself), don’t have quite the same expressive openness and imaginative freedom. A strong lyrical impulse carries most of Iasg (pronounced ‘eesk’), the jazz-inspired first movement of the Sonata for Cello and Piano and the whole of the unaccompanied Gala Water, beside which the solo piano pieces can sound melodically reined-in. Still, the latter only account for about nine minutes of this disc, so I wouldn’t let any of that put you off. The big cello works reveal Beamish at her Romantic best. It isn’t simply that she has a gift for the haunting or touching melodic phrase; she can also sustain lyrical flight over long spans, relishing the cello’s powers as a singing instrument. On the other hand, The Wise Maid is a splendid encore piece – a brilliant, compact set of variations on a traditional Irish fiddle tune with the flair of a modern Percy Grainger, played with exuberant virtuosity by the versatile Irvine. Recommended, and not just to adventurous cellists.