Florence Hooton / Wilfrid Parry

Bax: Legend-Sonata; Cello Sonata; Sonatina; Jacob: Divertimento; Elegy

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The portrait on the cover of this two-disc set is of the performer Florence Hooton. And though these 1958 recordings were made 22 years after the portrait was painted in 1936, the performances here of works by Arnold Bax and Gordon Jacob are still wonderfully poetic and high-spirited. Reissued by Lyrita in gloriously unrestored monaural, Hooton and her more than proficient pianist Wilfred Parry sound like they're present in the room with the listener, albeit the room has unaccountably grown somewhat smaller. Still, the power and conviction, not to mention the insight and affection, Hooton brings to Bax's deeply expressive late-Romantic music is fresh and infectious. With full-throated enthusiasm, she sings Bax's broad melodies in the Legend-Sonata's central Lento espressivo; with undisguised energy, she races Bax's ardent arabesques in the sonata's closing Molto vivace. Hooton's performances of Jacob's delightful Divertimento for solo cello is quite charming, but her performance of the same composer's Elegy for cello and piano is perhaps the best thing on both discs. Dedicated to Hooton, the work is slow and somber and she gives it an account of immeasurable depth and intensity. Though this disc may ultimately be of interest only to listeners already acquainted with the music of Bax and Jacob, it will surely beguile them with its beauty.

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