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Alexandra Wood
, violin; Huw Watkins, piano

Ensemble na Mara

USK 1226 CD & 1228 CDS

Hugh Wood Poem Op.35
Huw Watkins Corusaction; Reflection
Timothy Salter Chimera; Piano Quartet
Philip Cashian Stobrod's Violin
Helen Grime Romance
Colin Matthews Chaconne with Chorale; Moto Perpetuo
Michael Zev Gordon False Relations
Daniel Giorgetti Dialogue

This is a nice programme of recentish British music, nothing so riveting as to be unforgettable, yet all these pieces (some of them commissioned by the violinist) very acceptable for inclusion in mixed repertoire recitals. I have put links above to the two composers I didn't know.

Watkins is developing as a characterful composer; last week his Horn Trio was given by the Nash Ensemble. The most ear catching and individual piece, which I look forward to hearing live, was Daniel Giorgetti’s, the last in the sequence. He turns out to be a successful composer in the world of film and TV - you've surely seen some of the programmes for which he produced musical backing; it makes you think about this parallel musical world which is so important for composers who, nowadays, are less likely to be privileged with 'independent means' and don't want to live in the proverbial garret.

Timothy Salter, founder of Usk Recordings, is featured in the title piece Chimera and also with a separately released "single", a thoroughly workmanlike piano quartet (2006) which I enjoyed a lot. It is in three well contrasted movements and is the sort of work you expect to come across at Park Lane Group events at Purcell Room or Wigmore Hall. It is superbly recorded by David Wright and correspondingly well played by Ensemble na Mara, whose pianist Alasdair Beatson has often been reviewed in PLG concerts on Musical Pointers.

For a piece-by-piece review of this valuable violin recital disc see on Music Web Dominy Clements, who says that such CDs offer hope for composers whose scores tend to gather dust after having been once premièred; it is every composer’s dream to have their work preserved on record.

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. I have received (May 2009) a "single" of Salter's A poem of dancing with his Ionian Singers and - the main point in its favour - Jessica Townsend with her clarinets, a canny variation on piano accompaniment.

The music suffers from the lack of fast dancing movement demanded by the text, and the church recording suggests that in preparation the choir lacked essential coaching on making consonants audible.

The disc is really not ready for commercial distribution. Nonetheless, I did quite enjoy listening to it for the 13 minutes it takes [USK1229CDS].