Britten, Hugh Wood, Berkeley

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berkeley,Britten,Hugh Wood
WORKS: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal; Canticle III: Still Falls the Rain
PERFORMER: David Pyatt (horn), Peter Donohoe (piano), Levon Chilingirian (violin), Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-80217-2
This all-British programme is ingeniously built around Erato’s star horn-player David Pyatt, partnered throughout by the ever-dependable Peter Donohoe. With Levon Chilingirian, they give an overdue first recording to Hugh Wood’s 1989 Trio, which consists unusually of a long but strongly shaped sequence of alternating blocs of different tempo and material, followed by a short, brisk finale with some witty fugato episodes. The players capture the work’s striking contrasts between violent aggression and lyrical stillness, and convey its rhythmic vigour with precision and energy. The same three also give a sensitive account of the likeable if uneven Trio which Lennox Berkeley wrote in 1954 for Dennis Brain, Manoug Parikian (Chilingirian’s uncle) and Colin Horsley. Pyatt and Donohoe combine equally effectively with the mellifluous Anthony Rolfe Johnson in music by Britten with horn parts again designed for Brain: the lovely, melting Tennyson setting drafted for the 1943 Serenade but dropped from the final version; and the dramatic 1955 Canticle on Edith Sitwell’s anguished wartime meditation ‘Still falls the rain’. The recording benefits from the familiar bloom of Snape Maltings, but at the cost of clarity in some quiet violin passages. Altogether, though, this is an enjoyable and thoroughly recommendable disc. Anthony Burton