Sullivan: Daydream No. 1; Daydream No. 2; Daydream No. 3; Daydream No. 4; Daydream No. 5; Daydream No. 6; String Quartet; An Idyll; Thought No. 1 ; Thought No. 2; Duo concertante, Op. 2,

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COMPOSERS: Sullivan
LABELS: Somm
WORKS: Daydream No. 1; Daydream No. 2; Daydream No. 3; Daydream No. 4; Daydream No. 5; Daydream No. 6; String Quartet; An Idyll; Thought No. 1 ; Thought No. 2; Duo concertante, Op. 2,
PERFORMER: Jamie Walton (cello), Murray McLachlan (piano); Yeomans Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 233
Sullivan’s one-movement String Quartet sets off with a gesture similar to the one opening Mendelssohn’s Octet – both composers were 16 when they wrote them – but where Mendelssohn galvanises with the flexing of his compositional muscles, the Sullivan seems like a dutiful but stodgy imitation, despite the up-front playing of the Yeomans Quartet. And that’s the problem with most of the music here: it’s somehow second-hand. The bulk of it consists of short, salon-style piano pieces, where again the shadow of Mendelssohn lurks in the background, especially strongly in the Venetian gondola song of the fifth Daydream. Other composers peek through the curtains as well: sometimes Schubert, and even Liszt in the Allegro risoluto, though he wouldn’t have countenanced such an earthbound bass line. McLachlan makes heavier weather of this than the more wistful music, which he performs with charm and elegance, and he’s also a good partner in the three works for cello and piano, including the Duo concertante, which, like the Quartet, has pretensions to a greater stature than it actually attains. Walton’s playing is on the anonymous side, but that’s almost inevitable in this music: would anyone have bothered with it if it didn’t have the name of Sullivan attached? Martin Cotton

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