American Recorder

The prodigious output of recordings featuring English recorder virtuoso John Turner reflects his significant engagement with contemporary English composers. The music on this beautiful Divine Art release is by Philip Wood, and stands in the mainstream English musical idiom well-known in the works of Malcolm Arnold, and aesthetically related to the pastoral sound of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

In its own way, this music is every bit as dreamy as the works on Latin Reverie [also given a review in this issue]. The recorder (and Turner’s playing) take center stage in three of the six works ( Partita for Recorder and Cello , A Lonsdale Dance and Concertino for Recorder and String Quartet ), and share the spotlight with singer Lesley-Jane Rogers in Sonnets Airs and Dances and Five Spring Songs.

The Partita is a stunning work for recorder and cello. The interaction of the two voices recalls the beauty of melody and bass lines in Handel’s recorder sonatas. Of particular depth is the “Nocturne” movement. In its two movements, Wood’s Concertino for Recorder and String Quartet develops gradually in the flowing and dramatic “Adagio non troppo”, and concludes with a bracing “Allegro con brio.”

Sonnets, Airs and Dances and Five Spring Songs are both quite substantial pieces, with a great variety of mood in the setting of the texts. The writing for recorder, harpsichord and cello both supports the voice and brings each instrument into the foreground at appropriate moments.

This disc provides high audio quality, and the CD package is very well designed. The notes by the composer invite the listener into the pieces. The enunciation of Bowman and Rogers is so clear that the inclusion of song texts in the booklet is almost unnecessary.

—Tom Bickley