Poston & Korros Ensemble: Nostalgica
“This is a collection of beguiling works for flute, clarinet and harp trio which revolve around the emotional heart of Elizabeth Poston’s music. In her music, modernity is seamlessly interwoven with a sense of antiquity; of simpler more innocent times and avoids the trappings of being kitsch, naive or ever sentimental. Complimentary works by other composers exhibit rhythmic incisiveness, playfulness and lyricism- all seemingly bathed in a sepia-toned nostalgia. Here is an indomitable partnership of fabulous music and wonderful playing.” George Richford, Producer
The Korros ensemble [is] Eliza Marshall (flute), Nick Ellis (clarinet) and Camilla Pay (harp). This is not a traditional combination: the nearest I can think of is the combination of flute, viola and harp for which Debussy wrote one of his late sonatas and Bax his Elegiac Trio. The players here seem to have formed their ensemble first and then looked around for repertoire for it. Central to it is Elizabeth Poston, who has three works here, and then comes Howard Blake, who has two. These are surrounded by a group of shorter works by others, but the unifying feature, apart from the beguiling sound of the ensemble itself, is an idiom which seems to derive from Ravel, specifically his Introduction and Allegro, which adds a string quartet to the ensemble we have here. And it is none the worse for that.
Actually, the first piece here, Jacqueline’s Theme by Nick Ellis, the clarinettist, slightly departs from my description in that the theme itself is so Baxian that the work sounds almost like Baxian pastiche, indeed of his Elegiac Trio, which I mentioned.
Elizabeth Poston’s Trio which follows was written to a commission from an association of harpists, and was a great success, being chosen to represent Britain at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. It is in four movements, the first close to Ravel, the second an extended elegy for lost countryside, the third a delicate, rather Mendelssohnian Scherzo and the finale perky and dance-like, with s slow moment before the frisky ending.
We then have Howard Blake’s Trio, which started life as incidental music for a film, which he then arranged into the three movement concert work we have now. The first movement is plaintive with a lilting theme, the second an exploratory and questioning Andante and the Finale a lively dance.
Cheryl Frances-Hoad wrote her Vocalise at the age of thirteen, and with it won the Purcell Composition competition in the category of composers under twentyfive. She wrote it originally for soprano, flute and harp, but she reworked it here for the Korros ensemble. It is a charming and effective work.
Catrin Finch is a harpist as well as a composer and wrote her harp work for the 2016 Eisteddfod of Wales. Nuntii is Latin for messengers or messages and Finch was inspired by Holst’s Winged Messenger movement from The Planets, though this was Mercury and not, as the booklet says, Neptune. It sounds like a gentle version of Milhaud’s Scaramouche, but with an abrupt end.
We then have three short pieces for flute and harp by Elizabeth Poston .The first, Ricordanza, has an elegant flute theme like that in Fauré’s Sicilienne. The second is a Barcarolle and the finale a Calypso with a gentle lilt. Her Forma, which follows, is not discussed in the booklet but is a harp solo.
Finally, Howard Blake’s Penillion started life as a one-movement work for for violin and harp before being reworked in various ways, ending up scored for the ensemble we have here. The main theme is absolutely lovely.
I suppose none of the works here would count as major but they are all attractive and the sound of the ensemble alone is so delightful that there is a very pleasant hour’s listening here. The recording is impeccable.
--MusicWeb International (Stephen Barber)
Release Date: March 18, 2022
Catalog Number: CVI071
Label: Convivium Records
Orchestra/Ensemble: Korros Ensemble