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Percy Sherwood: Complete Works For Cello & Piano

Sherwood / Spooner / Norris
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 145   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Percy Sherwood
Performer:  Joseph SpoonerDavid Owen Norris
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SHERWOOD Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2. Drei Stücke. Fünf Kleine Stücke Joseph Spooner (vc); David Owen Norris (pn) TOCCATA 0145 (80:24)

Percy Sherwood (1866-1939) was a German-born composer of English extraction. He was a professor at the Dresden Royal Conservatory and in 1889 he was awarded the Mendelssohn Prize for his Requiem. A decade later the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein gave him a prize for his String Quartet in G Major, which has, unfortunately, been Read more lost. Sherwood visited England in 1914 and was there when World War I broke out. He stayed in England and ended up spending the rest of his life there. Some of his music had been published in Germany, but although he continued to compose in England, only one work was published there. Now, all of his known existing manuscripts are in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. British cellist Joseph Spooner, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, has pursued a career as a soloist and chamber musician. David Owen Norris is a pianist, a broadcaster, and a composer. He has collaborated with numerous singers and has had his own program on the BBC. Currently, he is working on his third radio opera. Sherwood’s First Cello Sonata is in D Major and dates from 1891. Much of it sounds like dark red velvet and is typically late-romantic in style. Sherwood treats the pianist as a full partner and in some cases gives him music that is technically difficult to play. Spooner and Norris play the Adagio with smooth singing tones. While the cellist plays with plaintive tones, the pianist offers occasional snatches of sunlight that brighten the mood. Spooner is an excellent cellist and his opulent tones can tug at the listener’s heartstrings. He uses a huge gradation of dynamics and can produce a sound that speaks directly to the emotions. Norris’s piano is relatively quiet for much of the second movement but when he breaks loose, toward the end, it is with tremendous melodic power. The third movement, which is marked Presto , shows the tremendous musicianship and technical prowess of both artists.

The first of the Drei Stücke (Three Pieces) written around 1900 is the “Legende.” Sherwood does not give us a story so we have to imagine our own. Perhaps a sorcerer has turned a beautiful maiden into a white bird. Will the handsome prince be able to release her? The end of the piece is rather ambiguous so listeners have to provide their own answers. It is followed by a pleasant Intermezzo that lets the listener dream on. The third piece is the most interesting. It is a fast and furious Neapolitan Saltarello, a kissing cousin to the Sicilian Tarantella. It definitely shows off the abilities of both performers. The first movement of the Second Sonata surges like an insistent sea. Even when the cellist plucks his strings, the pianist carries on with the thrust of this tension-driven music and it does not slacken for a moment. Whereas the First Sonata was the work of a beginning composer, this is the work of a man who has come into his own and can couch his talents in a proper setting. The “Legende” and the Minuetto keep up the flow so that all of his writing culminates in the final Allegro Molto where he shows his own individual style. I wonder if he wrote the Fünf kleine Stücke für Cello und Pianoforte (Five Little Pieces for Cello and Piano) for students. The pieces are only two to four minutes long but they are toe-tappers. I particularly loved the final waltz. There is no comparable recording of this music and this disc is very well put together, so I suggest that anyone who would like to hear more beautifully played late-Romantic music pick this one up.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 10 by Percy Sherwood
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), David Owen Norris (Piano)
Written: 1891 
Venue:  Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of 
Length: 28 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Drei Stücke, for cello & piano, Op. 14 by Percy Sherwood
Performer:  David Owen Norris (Piano), Joseph Spooner (Cello)
Venue:  Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of 
Length: 11 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Cello Sonata No. 2, Op. 15 by Percy Sherwood
Performer:  Joseph Spooner (Cello), David Owen Norris (Piano)
Written: 1900 
Venue:  Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of 
Length: 26 Minutes 40 Secs. 
5 kleine Stücke for cello & pianoforte by Percy Sherwood
Performer:  David Owen Norris (Piano), Joseph Spooner (Cello)
Written: 1886-1887 
Venue:  Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of 
Length: 13 Minutes 23 Secs. 

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