Clifford, Bainton

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bainton,Clifford
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: A Lyrical Sketch; A Kentish Suite; Five English Nursery Tunes
PERFORMER: Paul Whelan (baritone); BBC Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10019
Delving into the boxrooms of British music continues apace, gradually giving us a fuller picture of the early 20th century in particular. Edgar Bainton scored several successes in Britain, notably at the Three Choirs Festival, before moving to Australia in 1934. He was an accomplished and fluent composer, but I wish that he’d been a bit more ruthless with the blue pencil. Epithalamion contains beautiful passages, especially the soaring violin solos, but at 13 minutes it’s overlong: the harmony – chromatic, impressionistic, modal – doesn’t provide real backbone, and the music easily becomes aimless. An English Idyll consists of three songs expressing an expatriate’s homesickness, and Bainton’s heart is certainly on his sleeve here, though his thick orchestration at climaxes tends to overpower the singer. This is not the fault of the performers, who enter into Bainton’s world completely, and also find the right tone for Hubert Clifford, whose slighter gift was more focused, making him an ideal composer of light and film music: ‘The Casanova Melody’ comes from The Third Man, for which he was musical director. Otherwise, A Kentish Suite is a mixture of Waltonian pageantry (think Henry V), skittishness and English pastoral; and the Five English Nursery Tunes a playful and imaginative sequence of nursery rhyme arrangements. Delightful. Martin Cotton

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