The title of this cello-and-piano recital comes from a work by Arnold Bax, Folk Tale, written in 1918. It's not so much a pastoral work, but one inspired by Celtic mythology; sort of a condensed version of Bax's tone poems on similar themes, and it's a pleasant, vaguely evocative work. It's the centerpiece of a collection of pieces, starting with Elgar and running up to E.J. Moeran in the 1940s, that reflected, as Stephen Barlow reminds in his notes, contemporary and fresh trends in British music, no matter that they may seem conservative today. The program is framed by two famous pastoral works by Vaughan Williams, both very fetchingly performed by cellist Gerald Peregrine (ideally named for an album of works with nature themes) and pianist Anhony Ingham. In between come the Bax and a mixed bag of shorter works, by no means all of them pastoral in orientation. The Elgar Romance, Op. 62, arranged for cello and piano, is pretty slight, as is the student-like "Spring Song" from the Four Short Pieces for Violin and Piano of Frank Bridge (these were intended for either violin or cello). There are also some nice finds, including three works by Delius that effectively reduce his rather mystical moods to chamber dimensions. Two of them, the Caprice and Elegy (sample the Caprice) were written in 1930, after Delius had gone blind from syphilis and become unable to walk; he dictated them to an amanuensis, and you'd never guess the circumstances from the music. The two Moeran works combine Irish folk influences with a denser harmonic palette than is found in the other works. Everything is beautifully played and pleasant, with many small touches appearing amidst the flow of melody. Potton Hall has rarely sounded better acoustically. Ideal music for the summer house, or for a winter's night.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Six Studies in English folk Song|
|Four Short Pieces for Violin and Piano|
|Caprice & Elegy|