William Lloyd Webber: Three Spring Miniatures; Sonatina; Air and Variations; Fantasy Trio; Songs

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COMPOSERS: William Lloyd Webber
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Three Spring Miniatures; Sonatina; Air and Variations; Fantasy Trio; Songs
PERFORMER: John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Ian Brown (piano); Nash Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67008
William Lloyd Webber’s music is rapidly gaining a wider currency, with several recent recordings (see September’s Orchestral and Instrumental, for instance) which testify to his skill and sensitivity. A successful teaching career and his work as an organist generally took priority over composing, but he never lost the creative muse which first surfaced in the Fantasy Trio (1936). This is beautifully played by Ian Brown, Leo Phillips and Christopher van Kampen, in what sadly proved to be the latter’s last recording.

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The music tends to be gentle in manner and breaks no new ground. Thus Lloyd Webber’s last composition, The Gardens at Eastwell (1982) for flute and piano, sounds no more modern than his first. Its evocative charm, moreover, is typical of the miniatures collected here. Jonathan Snowden’s performance is particularly persuasive, and so too is the playing of that fine pianist Ian Brown, whose solo items open the programme.

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If the instrumental miniatures are successful, it is no surprise that the songs should be enjoyable too. Their style may be somewhat ‘drawing room’ at times, but there is always a nicely balanced relationship between voice and piano. John Mark Ainsley is in ardent voice, and the recorded sound is exemplary. Terry Barfoot