Walton, Maxwell Davies, Rawsthorne, L Berkeley & Bennett

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: L Berkeley & Bennett,Maxwell Davies,Rawsthorne,Walton
ALBUM TITLE: British Guitar Music
WORKS: Guitar music
PERFORMER: Graham Anthony Devine (guitar)
There’s a strong repertoire of British guitar music from the second half of the 20th century, created largely by Julian Bream. Among much else, he brought into being Walton’s lively Five Bagatelles, Lennox Berkeley’s fluent Sonatina and Richard Rodney Bennett’s attractive Five Impromptus, as well as both commissioning and completing Alan Rawsthorne’s last composition, an intense Elegy.


In addition to these works, Graham Anthony Devine has programmed here Berkeley’s Theme and Variations and his early Four Pieces, and a neat arrangement by Timothy Walker of Maxwell Davies’s haunting piano piece Farewell to Stromness (originally an interlude in Davies’s cabaret-style The Yellow Cake Revue ).

Devine, British-born but trained largely in Brazil, makes a very beautiful sound, especially at the quieter end of the spectrum, and has generally nimble fingers. He’s not always flattered by a close recording, which catches some finger noise. And he sometimes misrepresents the text: Walton’s first Bagatelle gets the disc off to a poor start, with snatched, sour chords, loose rhythms, and a couple of completely wrong tempo changes; and there’s the odd misread rhythm and shortened

rest throughout.


Even with Bream’s own recordings of many of these works not handily available, there are some more reliable alternatives, such as Craig Ogden (Chandos, reviewed January) in all three Berkeley pieces. But Devine’s recital will still give considerable pleasure at a modest price. Anthony Burton