British Works for Cello and Piano, Vol. 1

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COMPOSERS: Parry; Delius; Foulds; Bantok
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: British Works for Cello and Piano, Vol. 1
WORKS: Parry: Cello Sonata in A; Delius: Cello Sonata in D; Foulds: Cello Sonata; Bantok: Hamabdil
PERFORMER: Paul watkins(cello); Huw Watkins (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN10741

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Sheep peacefully graze in the misty light on the booklet cover: the cue, one might think, for mild pastoral ramblings for cello and piano in this new series from Chandos. But the CD’s repertoire, mainly composed between 1880 and 1919, offers greater stimulation than that. Bantock’s little Hamabdil, drawn from theatre incidental music, sets a Hebrew melody with dignity; Delius’s 1916 Sonata, structured in hypnotic long breaths, progresses from reverie to ecstasy; while John Foulds’s Sonata (circa 1905, with 1920s revisions) peppers late Romantic grandiloquence with quarter-tones, dissonant splashes, and other sounds of music’s future. Even Parry’s rather garrulous Sonata, where Brahms seems peering over the composer’s shoulder, avoids the weak and docile.

The Watkins brothers, Paul and Huw, buckle down to their task with notable sympathy and panache. In the Parry, Huw’s springing piano almost leaves Paul’s cello in the shade; not a problem in the Delius, where the cello sings warmly and eloquently over a dutiful chordal accompaniment. The Bantock trinket is conveyed with passion, but it’s left to the Foulds, almost outlandishly exuberant, to really bring these fine musicians to the boil. No sheep could graze peacefully through this.

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Geoff Brown