Raphael Wallfisch / John York

Rebecca Clarke: Music for Cello & Piano

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The reputation of English composer Rebecca Clarke has been on the upswing, with the pianist John York, heard on this album, among various musicians supervising performing editions of her work. Her Viola Sonata of 1919 is one of her best-known works, and despite the fact that Clarke herself was a violist, it may benefit from the recasting here for cello and piano, made by Clarke. The muscular, passionate take on French Impressionism that characterizes this work and the Rhapsody for cello and piano of 1923 is brought out well by the cello in the case of the sonata. Sample the sonata's opening "Impetuoso" movement for an idea. There are lots of other attractions here as well: examples of the later, folk-influenced phase of Clarke's career in the lovely Passacaglia on an Old English Tune and I'll Bid My Heart Be Still, and an unusual example of a contemporary work that directly addresses one of its near predecessors, York's Dialogue with Rebecca Clarke (2007), which weaves motifs from the sonata with original music. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch has the right big, melodic sound for this material, and with fine sound from Lyrita (recorded at an unidentified location), this is a standout among the group of Clarke recordings from the mid-2010s.

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