Scott: Piano Quartet, Op. 16; Piano Quintet

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LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Piano Quartet, Op. 16; Piano Quintet
PERFORMER: London Piano Quartet; Marilyn Taylor (violin)
It’s hard to place Cyril Scott, especially in a short review. Born only a few years later than Vaughan Williams, he died in 1970, at the age of 91, a spectacular anachronism – or so he would have seemed if he hadn’t fallen into even more spectacular neglect. In the early years of the century Scott was seen in Britain as a particularly promising young modernist, and was admired abroad, most notably by Debussy. Like Bridge, he developed a more advanced style after the First World War, though to get a clearer picture of that we need more recordings. These two works show Scott as an expansive late Romantic – a rhapsodist in both the best and the worst senses of the words. His imaginative power is undeniable, but there’s much less clarity of thought and purpose than in the early Romantic Bridge. Almost any passage taken at random will reveal Scott’s flair for voluptuous harmony, his rhythmic and melodic freedom, but it’s difficult to find a sense of shape in his extravagant, improvisatory wanderings, even though the performers seem thoroughly committed to the music. Still, with playing of this quality, sympathetically recorded, there’s more on offer here than a useful learning experience. Stephen Johnson