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Eclogue – British Chamber Music

Chamber Ensemble of London (SOMM Recordings)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Eclogue – British Chamber Music
Finzi: Eclogue; Clive Jenkins: Piano Concertino; Pieces for Oboe and Strings; A Ridout: Concertino; plus works by Horovitz, W Lloyd Webber, Cecilia McDowall, Milford and Don Shearman
Chamber Ensemble of London
SOMM SOMMCD 0653   74:54 mins

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Nine of the 12 pieces on this album of British music for soloists and string ensemble are claimed as first recordings, including the two works by Clive Jenkins which frame it. His Three Pieces for Oboe and Strings, written last year, meld a sunny pastoralism with the perky ballet of the Scherzo finale. Michael Stowe is the nimble, punctilious soloist. Jenkins’ Piano Concertino is similarly puckish in its outer movements, which at times recall Poulenc. The lingeringly nostalgic slow movement draws an affectionately shaped response from soloist Margaret Fingerhut.

Alan Ridout’s Concertino for Flute and Strings is more emotionally ambivalent, especially in Judith Hall’s quietly moving account of the finale. Hall resurfaces in more jaunty mode in Robin Milford’s Mr John Peel Passes By.

The rest of the recital is single-movement pieces, the best-known of which is Finzi’s Eclogue, with Fingerhut again a heartfelt soloist. Cecilia McDowall’s Y Deryn Pur (The Gentle Dove) is a more concise and texturally more interesting piece, with mellifluous solo contributions from clarinettist Peter Cigleris. He is also the smoothly virtuosic soloist in Joseph Horovitz’s breezy Concertante, and in William Lloyd Webber’s mellow Frensham Pond. Harpist Gabriella Dall’Olio’s elegant playing graces several tracks, including Ronald Binge’s rippling idyll The Watermill.

These recordings span different session dates and venues, and the sound quality is slightly variable. None of the music is indispensable, yet this well-performed disc will please devotees of British music.

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Terry Blain