Clarke, Ives

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Clarke,Ives
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Trio; Midsummer Moon
PERFORMER: Bekova Sisters
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9844
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) was a pupil of Stanford, but clearly responsive to more up-to-date influences, notably that of impressionism. Her 1921 Trio is beautifully written and well constructed on cyclic lines, with some striking moments of harmonic adventurousness. The Bekova Sisters play it sympathetically, though sometimes a little languorously, and with a few patches of insecure intonation. They add the first recording of a Szymanowski-like nocturne for violin and piano, and an ingenious Lullaby for string duo.

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Although born and educated in England, Clarke had an American father, and eventually settled in the USA. Hence, presumably, the pairing of her music with the earlier but much more experimental Trio of Charles Ives. The Bekovas obviously relish its mixture of strenuous counterpoint, exuberant collage and pious repose, though the cellist seems reticent in her final declamation of the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’.

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If the programme appeals to you, this well-recorded disc is thoroughly recommendable. But if your main interest is in Rebecca Clarke, it’s worth seeking out an ASV disc by Martin Roscoe and the Endellion Quartet, immaculately performed, which pairs the Trio with another of Clarke’s sadly few major works, the Viola Sonata, as well as the fine late-Romantic Quintet by Amy Beach. Anthony Burton