Warmly recorded and passionate readings of music from a master of the understated pastoral lyrical persuasion.
One of the real pleasures of reviewing here is the connections all the writers make and how these can lead to reviews of further discs. This is the case here. Robert Atchison saw the review of the Dutton Gibbs chamber music collection and was in touch. I asked him about another disc (this one) mentioned on the Armstrong Gibbs website and noticed that he was a member of the Trio. I asked him if a review copy was possible and one promptly arrived.
Cecil Armstrong Gibbs was a son of Essex - Great Baddow to be precise. He took History and Music at Cambridge; the latter with E. J. Dent, Charles WoodRead more and Cyril Rootham. 1919 saw his breakthrough when Adrian Boult attended a production of de la Mare’s play 'Crossings' and was so taken with Gibbs incidental music that he offered to fund him for a year at the RCM. Then followed a year studying conducting under Boult and composition under Vaughan Williams. He formed and led the Danbury Choral Society. During the Second World War he moved to Windermere. After his son David was killed in Italy he wrote his Third Symphony The Westmorland (with Symphony No. 1 on Marco Polo 8.233553). In 1945 he returned to Essex and re-formed the Danbury Choral Society. There are three symphonies and plenty of chamber music, choral pieces and songs. His pleasing Oboe Concerto has also been recorded by Dutton as has the Second Symphony Odysseus. There are a few CDs available which will provide you with material for exploration.
The music on the present disc comprises miniatures - well, apart from the Trio Op. 99 but even that is pretty compact. The Yorkshire Dales instantly proclaims a confident composer. He is from the vividly lyrical English pastoral school of the first half of the last century. The writing is fresh, inventive, euphoric and in Woodale enthusing. The middle movement is a most sensitive gentle inspiration. This is passionate music passionately played. Think in terms of Howells’ Piano Quartet but compressed into more compact movements. The delightful and splendidly polished Three Graces (three daughters?) is different in style - more romantically classical in the region of Dvorák and Schumann. Country Magic is a more pensive collection overall. It returns us to the countryside and folksong with a series of calming vignettes: the breathily meditative Siesta, the amiably ambling The Open Road and the touchingly affectionate An Old Song. The op. 99 Piano Trio is more passionate - a mixture of the greenways ecstasy of Howells and the smiling Dvorák-like writing of The Three Graces. After an amorously discursive Lento comes a robustly swinging and exciting Con brio finale.
Shortish playing time but these are warmly recorded and passionate readings of music from a pastoral master of the understated lyrical persuasion.