Walker: Chamber Music and Songs / Green, Stasio, Cygnus Ensemble
The String Quartet No. 2 starts off plaintively and quickly becomes contrapuntal. The second movement emphasizes plucked strings, but the piece really gets going in the third movement, which is more melodic than the first two and full of pizzicati. The last movement contains an interesting fugue. It should be mentioned that the Lyric for Strings, also on this disc, is a movement from Walker’s earlier Quartet No. 1 and is still his best-known piece. It is serious and quite moving.
The most interesting work here is the Poem for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble, to words by T.S. Eliot. This is very solid, with an advanced, but impressive solo part and a fascinating use of the instruments, especially the piano. The use of Sprechstimme by the main soloist and accompaniment by two other soloists is also well done.
The most recent item on the disc is the Modus for Chamber Ensemble. It is in four sections, with two guitars prominent. They definitely add to the atmosphere. A solo flute is also in evidence. Each movement builds on the previous one so that the last produces a true feeling of culmination. Unfortunately, equal praise cannot be given to the Five Fancies.
Of the five Walker songs recorded here, two definitely stand out. “Never Saw a Moon” uses programmatic elements in the accompaniment to support the vocal part and has an Emily Dickinson feeling. The Wyatt song “And Will Thou Leave Me Thus” uses different intervals to mirror the emotions of the text.
All of the ensembles heard on this recording play very competently and with great dedication to the music. Soprano Janet Stasio is especially notable. One could hardly imagine anyone else with a better understanding of the music. Patricia Green is also fine in her three songs, although James Martin is not nearly so good. As the recordings were made in several different places, recording quality is somewhat variable.
-- William Kreindler, MusicWeb International
Catalog Number: 8559659
Composer: George Walker
Conductor: Angelo Frascarelli
Orchestra/Ensemble: Capitol Chamber Artists, Cygnus Ensemble, Son Sonora String Quartet, Videmus Ensemble
Performer: George Walker, James Martin, Janet Stasio, Patricia Green