Smith

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Smith
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Smith
WORKS: Symphony in A minor; Symphony in C minor; Andante for clarinet and orchestra
PERFORMER: Angela Malsbury; London Mozart Players, Howard Shelley
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10283
Alice Mary Smith’s modest success in late 19th-century Britain was a historical milestone. Critics were – if only momentarily – prepared to concede that perhaps women didn’t lack the necessary ‘reasoning and inventive faculties’ necessary for ambitious composition after all. Is her significance anything more than historical? Well, she wasn’t a great original. Mendelssohn is clearly the guiding spirit here. But in movements like the delightfully capricious scherzo of the C minor Symphony, and in some of the striking modulations in the outer movements of both symphonies she shows she’s no mere imitator. And while she isn’t immune from Victorian parlour triteness (especially in finales), she never loses her ability to surprise – the melancholy oboe cadenza that interrupts the finale of the C minor is a remarkable imaginative stroke. These fine performances certainly do her justice, and the recordings are well up to Chandos’s usual high standards. Stephen Johnson

Advertisement