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Epoch - Music For Cello & Piano / Spooner, Jones, Mosley

Release Date: 04/14/2009 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 7225   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Walter MacfarrenMichael BalfeSamuel Coleridge-TaylorRoger Quilter,   ... 
Performer:  Joseph SpoonerKathryn MosleyMichael Jones
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ROMANTICS IN ENGLAND: MUSIC FOR CELLO AND PIANO Joseph Spooner (vc); Kathryn Mosley (pn); 1 Michael Jones (pn) 2 DUTTON 7225 (72:30)

W. MACFARREN Cello Sonata in e. 1 BALFE Cello Sonata in A?. 2 ELLICOTT A Read more Reverie. 2 COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Variations in b. 2 QUILTER To Julia: To Daisies. 2 BAINTON Cello Sonata 2

Dutton’s explorations of neglected repertoire represent some of the most laudable endeavors of recent times. The pieces are imaginatively chosen without fail, and this disc provides no exception.

The music of Sir George Alexander Macfarren is at least a little known, and provides a point of entry here, at least by proxy. Walter Macfarren (1826–1905) was his brother, who taught for a marathon 57 years at the Royal Academy of Music in London (pupils include Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms). Macfarren himself was a composition student of Cipriani Potter. He was influenced by Sterndale Bennett. The date of his Cello Sonata in E-Minor is uncertain, but it probably hails from the late 1850s. It was certainly premiered in 1861 (by Alfredo Piatti). The work appears never to have been published, even though Novello announced publication at one point. Spooner gives the work the greatest advocacy, playing with a beautiful tone throughout that he uses to great expressive effect. The first movement is full of energy and passion, albeit passion of a slightly restrained kind. The movement is tightly constructed. The Scherzo is at times almost kittenishly playful, while the third movement doubles as slow movement and finale combined. The main body of this finale is lean and muscular. Kathryn Mosley, who accompanies only this piece, does so with panache.

Irish composer Michael Balfe (1808–1870) is best known for his opera The Bohemian Girl . As a point of interest, another of his many (43) operas, Falstaff , has just been issued on RTÉ Lyric FM 119. He began his Cello Sonata in 1866. The first movement (Allegro) opens in about as carefree a fashion as one can imagine. Balfe’s melodic fecundity is in evidence throughout. The tunes—and they are tunes rather than themes—are open and affable. The slow movement is a natural outpouring of melody, only interrupted by some more dramatic piano passages. The finale is carefree and gentle.

The other major work on the disc is the Sonata by Edward Bainton (1880–1956). Bainton was a student of Stanford at the Royal College of Music from 1896–1901. This is the only work on the disc that has been available before; it was recorded in 1951 with the composer as pianist and John Kennedy as cellist for Australian Columbia. The score, however, was not actually published until 2008. The solo cello line that opens the work is enigmatic in nature, something confirmed by the piano’s nebulous harmonies when it enters. There is something hesitant about this movement that underlines its questioning nature. The playful Scherzo (featuring pizzicato cello imitated by piano) leads to an impassioned Lento (its key scheme of B-Minor to D-Major mirrors the gradual appeasement of this passion) and a finale that, after shifting beginnings, never fully moves into the light, leaving an impression of mystery in its wake. Interested readers should note that Bainton’s substantial Viola Sonata is available on British Music Society BMS 415R, coupled with works by Bridge and Julius Harrison.

The central trio of works on this disc acts as a sort of collective Intermezzo. Cambridge-born Rosalind Ellicott (1857–1924) was a fairly prolific composer. Unfortunately, many of her works have been lost. This delightful Reverie (published 1888) remains as a testament to her music’s restrained grace and charm, however. Spooner is an eloquent interpreter. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a pupil of Stanford, is much better known. Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast is his best-known work. The Variations in B-Minor was first performed in 1907. The theme itself seems almost Slavic (remember Coleridge-Taylor’s musical hero was Dvo?ák). As the music unwinds itself, one is conscious of the composer’s insatiable musical curiosity. The slow variations are dream-like. The Quilter song, “To Daisies,” op. 8/3 of 1906, was transcribed by the composer for cello and piano and published in this form in 1919. Spooner effectively whispers the solo line, lending heightened intimacy to his reading.

In many ways this disc is revelatory in terms of repertoire. It is also a delight to listen to and is unhesitatingly recommended.

FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor by Walter Macfarren
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), Kathryn Mosley (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
Length: 19 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: England (?1850s - By 1861). 
Sonata for Cello and Piano in A flat major by Michael Balfe
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), Michael Jones (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1880; England 
Length: 16 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Variations for Cello and Piano in B minor by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Performer:  Michael Jones (Piano), Joseph Spooner (Cello)
Written: circa 1907; England 
Length: 12 Minutes 50 Secs. 
To Julia, Op. 8: no 3, To Daisies by Roger Quilter
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), Michael Jones (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Roger Quilter. 
A Reverie by Rosalind F. Ellicott
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), Michael Jones (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1888; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Sonata for Cello and Piano by Edgar Bainton
Performer:  Michael Jones (Piano), Joseph Spooner (Cello)
Written: 1924; England 
Length: 16 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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