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Touching the sublime
on 19 February 2013
"Long awaited" is very true in this case given that Godfrey's only previous solo album dates back to 1973. It's also an accurate description given that this disc of piano music was originally supposed to have been released a year ago. The end result is very satisfying and much, much better than his recent collaborations with the other members of the Enid.
Cogenhoe Gallivant is partly new material, partly Freelance Human from the Enid album Tripping the Light Fantastic, and all wonderful. English Rhapsody is an arrangement for piano and orchestra of Nocturne from White Goddess and in my opinion (despite some rather brash orchestral sounds) surpasses the original. The Mirror of Love is really The Lovers, with one of Godfrey's almost obligatory name changes. Five Gemstones consists of short piano solos which have not been developed into longer pieces. We are back to piano and orchestra with Intermezzo, which is an arrangement of The Biscuit Game from Light Fantastic. A piano version of The Art of Melody from Journey's End completes the new material and all bar the Gemstones are absolutely first class.
So why no fifth star? Partly because if you discount the final two pieces on the disc, which are live versions of tracks already featured and were previously released on the Enid/CBSO double live CD, the running time is under 40 minutes. More importantly excellent though the pieces are there is not much in the way of new compositions here which suggests to me that RJG is not writing much these days; his hand has been decreasingly evident on the last two Enid studio albums.
The Art of Melody is trailed as the first in a series of RJG piano albums. Let us hope the next one features not only magical reworkings of the glorious past but also modern day compositions to rival them.