American Record Guide

John Turner has done a great deal of good for British music and a great deal of good for the recorder. He served as a lawyer for many British musical organizations and played with London’s most important “early” early music ensembles, including David Munrow’s Early Music Consort of London. He is also quite a champion of new music for recorder. I wish I liked his recorder playing more. I suppose in this post-Petri (as in Michala) era of perfection in sound production, tonguing, and phrasing on the recorder, my sensibilities have been skewed. The music is interesting. It is all rather sunny mid-20th Century British music for recorder and piano, recorder and strings, piano solo, piano and strings, and string quartet. Michael Hurd (1928-2006) was a student of Lennox Berkeley. His music shows the same kind of lightness, ease, and lyricism. Robin Milford (1903-59), whose family trust partly financed this recording, studied with Holst and Vaughan Williams. The liner notes call his three recorder pieces “stalwarts of the recorder repertoire”, but this is the first I have heard of them. The non-recorder pieces here are Milford’s Fantasia in B minor for string quartet, which bears homage to Debussy, and his Prelude for Piano Trio, a work that he dedicated to Vaughan Williams on his 85th birthday. The most interesting composer here is Dick Blackford, who was born in 1936 and is still living. His Recorder Concerto (which sounds as if it could be played by a full string section as well as by a string quartet) is a lovely and lively piece that explores the colors of the whole family of recorders and seems to lie in resonant ranges of all the instruments, including the bass recorder.