WORKS: Piano Concerto; The Healing Fountain; Serenade for Cello and Strings
PERFORMER: Gordon Fergus-Thompson (piano), Andrew Carwood (tenor), Alexander Baillie (cello)Britten Sinfonia/Nicholas Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 969
The words ‘recorded in the presence of the composer’ have special significance here. For Christopher Headington (1930-96) was tragically killed in a skiing accident just eleven days after these recordings were made. He was particularly satisfied with them, and hoped that they would bring him a wider recognition.
The fluency of the Piano Concerto (1991) is one of its chief characteristics, and the rapport between soloist and ensemble is imaginatively achieved, not least because of the insights of Gordon Fergus-Thompson, who worked with Headington on many occasions. The Serenade (1995) was written for Julian Lloyd Webber, and Alexander Baillie plays it with sympathy and understanding. Citing Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Headington decided ‘that a serenade does not have to be slow’, and the full range of the cello is employed most imaginatively.
Headington thought The Healing Fountain (1978) his best work. It is an orchestral song cycle dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Britten, using poems recommended by his friend Roy Westbrook, and including various Britten quotations. The work seeks to convey ‘the healing and peacemaking force’of music, and this it certainly does in Andrew Carwood’s sensitive performance. This disc therefore stands as an appropriate tribute to a fine composer. Terry Barfoot