Leighton: Piano Trio; Partita; Metamorphoses; Elegy

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LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: Piano Trio; Partita; Metamorphoses; Elegy
PERFORMER: Lorraine McAslan (violin), Andrew Fuller (cello), Michael Dussek (piano)
Alongside his work in remastering old recordings, Michael Dutton has now begun to make quite a corner in new versions of neglected British chamber music from the last hundred years. It’s good to find him turning his attention to Kenneth Leighton, a thoughtful composer who didn’t jump on any stylistic bandwagons, but, on the evidence of this CD, plainly meant every note that he wrote. The first movement of the Piano Trio draws you in with yearning upward striving lines in octaves in the violin and cello, before taking off with syncopated contrapuntal energy, while still having time for long melodic lines. In the scherzo the rhythmic element predominates, and the final Hymn, which is given over entirely to lyricism, rises in an arch to an emotionally charged climax. The Partita and Metamorphoses are tougher nuts to crack, perhaps because of Leighton’s use of serial techniques, though the feeling of tonality is very near the surface, and the energetic and the lyrical are always kept in balance – Metamorphoses is especially impressive in its varied pacing over a 20-minute span. There’s the occasional slight roughness in string intonation, but otherwise the concentration and commitment of all the performers is absolute. Martin Cotton