English Recorder Works / Jill Kemp

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ENGLISH RECORDER WORKS • Jill Kemp (rcr); Aleksandr Szram (pn); Brodowski Qrt • MUSIC MEDIA 103 (70:58) ARNOLD Sonatina. Solitaire. Fantasy for Recorder and String...

ENGLISH RECORDER WORKS Jill Kemp (rcr); Aleksandr Szram (pn); Brodowski Qrt MUSIC MEDIA 103 (70:58)

ARNOLD Sonatina. Solitaire. Fantasy for Recorder and String Quartet. BERKELEY Sonatina. JACOB Suite for Recorder and String Quartet. BOWEN Recorder Sonata. RUBBRA Meditazioni sopra “Coeurs désolés”

Among modern composers, the English probably have been most attentive to the recorder, an instrument still, in many minds, associated with early music and with the most tiresome aspects of musical education. In large part, the English connection probably can be attributed to Arnold (father) and Carl (son) Dolmetsch, who did so much to bring the instrument out of the past, and to make it accessible (in multiple senses of the word) to English performers and composers. Indeed, several of the works on this CD, including Lennox Berkeley’s Sonatina, York Bowen’s Sonata, Edmund Rubbra’s Meditazioni sopra “Coeurs désolés” (based on a theme by Josquin des Prez), and Gordon Jacob’s Suite, were composed for Carl Dolmetsch between 1939 and 1958. Malcolm Arnold’s Sonatina (1953) was composed for Philip Rogers, another English performer. Throughout the course of the latter half of the century, the recorder once again became a truly international instrument. For example, it was Danish performer Michala Petri (still active, praise be to God!) who inspired Arnold’s Fantasy in 1990. Arnold’s Solitaire (originally composed for a tobacco advertisement!), after several iterations, finally became a work for recorder and piano at the instigation of recorder player John Turner.

Carl Dolmetsch’s representation on CD is disappointingly sparse. (A series from Allegro Music titled The Arnold Dolmetsch Years contains concert recordings in which several Dolmetsch family members are involved, and important guests such as Rafael Puyana, but these are out of print.) Fortunately, we have performers such as Petri and Jill Kemp to run with the torch. Kemp studied with Petri and Piers Adams, and her work, if not her name, will be familiar to many, as she performs on the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , playing Alexandre Desplat’s score. (Adams plays on the soundtrack as well.)

With its alternation between works in which the soloist is joined either by piano or by string quartet, this CD is well thought out. Kemp is an expressive player, and always in control of her surprisingly difficult instrument. (I wrote “surprisingly” because, in my experience, the recorder is easy to play but nearly impossible to master!) In terms of technique, there are no problems. She is very capable of making her instrument sing. In terms of musicianship, though, I find Kemp to be less imaginative and varied than Petri, who can convince a receptive listener that the recorder is as capable of as many colors and moods as the violin. Granted, the repertoire is weighted in the English pastoral direction, but Arnold and Jacob are often witty, and there’s a seriousness to Kemp’s playing that doesn’t always do the music justice. (The “Burlesca alla Rumba” from Jacob’s Suite, for example, needs to smile more; this is funny music.) Kemp is at her best, then, when the music is peaceful or elegiac. The dignity and drama of Rubbra’s Meditazioni also come across strongly, making this work another highpoint of the CD. Alexander Szram is an attentive pianist, and the young Brodowski Quartet plays with sensitivity. (For example, I like the way in which they do a lot with very little in the first movement of Arnold’s Fantasy. Throughout this work, their influence brings out the best in Kemp, who seems freer here than she does elsewhere in this recital.)

This disc is quite enjoyable, and Kemp is a talent to keep your eyes on, although Petri’s recordings remain top choice.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle

Product Description:

  • Release Date: May 01, 2013

  • UPC: 5065001668036

  • Catalog Number: MMC103

  • Label: Music & Media

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Arnold, Berkely, Rubbra

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Brodowski Quartet

  • Performer: Kemp, Szram