British Music Society

Any CD supported by the Rawsthorne Trust must surely be of general interest to BMS members; they will certainly find reward in this fine guitar collection , which concludes with Alan Rawsthorne’s last opus, the Elegy, commissioned and completed by Julian Bream. An appropriately sombre and disturbing work, this piece suggested to me Dylan Thomas’s celebrated couplet: “Do not go gentle into that good night Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” A work to repay repeated hearings. A shorter Elegy by Terence Croucher precedes the Rawsthorne, the last of a series of eight pieces by this composer. Six Preludes briefly explore a variety of musical ideas: the final item is a real winner, as also is the enchanting “The Little Boat”. The first ten tracks feature Richards’s own compositions: five MiniPreludes, two Interludes, a piece called Primitive Rites, and two Nocturnes. Coloristic contrast, and an impressive array of well-executed effects characterise this attractive sequence. Two of the Preludes find transatlantic inspiration both north and south of the Border and are delightfully easy on the ear. But Stravinskyan dynamism is also present here, in a recording that throughout catches every tonal nuance of the instrument. Colin Tommis, the prolific J.R. Williamson, Gilbert Biberian and Timothy Harrison are other composers featured in this showcase of British talent: all have something to offer. Lastly, a big name, John Tavener whose 11-minute “Chant” is designed to conjure up his beloved Greek landscape. Daringly economical in texture, it is perhaps not vintage Tavener, but is certainly atmospheric and evocative. On all counts – content, recording and performance – this 65-minute CD is highly recommended.

—Andrew Seivewright