LABELS: EM Records
ALBUM TITLE: Quilter
WORKS: Three Studies, Op. 4; Three Pieces, Op. 16; Two Impressions, Op. 19; Four Country Pieces, Op. 27; Suite from Where the Rainbow Ends
PERFORMER: David Owen Norris (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EM CD 002
Reaching for the stars is admirable, of course, but there’s a lot to be said for the composer who knows his limitations and works to achieve perfection within them. Fauré is a prime example, and it’s not surprising to find echoes of Fauré in some of the earlier works by Roger Quilter on this disc. In some ways they’re kindred spirits: sensitive miniaturists who can convey a great deal with a seemingly light melodic gesture or a deftly placed harmonic twist.
Placing these works in (mostly) chronological order makes sense. We can follow Quilter’s journey: not a linear course of deepening exploration, but a gradual ripening and enrichment of what was already good to start with. David Owen Norris’s performances convey exactly the sense of contained delight I’m sure Quilter would have wanted. He hints at veiled emotional depths and brings out the almost Schumannesque textual riches in some of the pieces without ever straining to make a point. Norris’s thoughtful accompanying essay on Quilter’s piano style is also well worth reading.
The recordings are just right: intimate without being too close to the piano, clear without being analytically dry. Recommended to anyone enthusiastic about English music – and it may even surprise one or two who aren’t.