5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Spring Time for a Forgotten Master,
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This review is from: John Foulds: Dynamic Triptych (Piano Concerto), Music Pictures, April - England, Song of Ram Dass, Keltic Suite (Audio CD)
I agree totally with the first reviewer. For the many who don't know his work he is an almost criminally neglected composer. The conductor Sakari Oramo remarked that when taking the CBSO post he was asked whether he would be playing any John Foulds, by a German critic - he being the most original british composer of his time. That perhaps shows how Foulds has been let down by his own country because others appreciate his gifts.
The Dynamic triptych is a major concerto and now there is a choice on disc. This recording represents the preferred version, not that Howard Shelley's version on Lyrita is at all bad. The concerto does have plenty of Prokofiev muscle combined with some Ravellian impressionism and those trademark microtones in the slow movement. There aren't many great British piano concertos but this is certainly one of them.
The real gem on this disc, however, is April-England. It does indeed seem to represent a speeded up film of growth in Spring. The chaconne like base that sets in after the introduction so effectively sets up an increasingly ecstatic syncopated march. In terms of english pastorale it is nearer to Grainger than Vaughan Williams. At under 8 minutes it packs a lot in. Why this isn't a popular classic is a complete mystery. I've played this piece over and over again. This music evokes April with the freshness of Spring combined with the increasing virility coming with the first strong hints of Summer sun.
The rest are a bit of a mixed bag, I admit. The Musical pictures are completely forgettable but Ram Dass is a short and effective evocation of India. He did indeed perish in India, unable to find work in England. Many tantalising pieces perished such as an east meets west symphony with traditional western and eastern instruments.
The Keltic Lament is classic FM stuff really; pleasant enough and it earned him some easy cash at the time but as a catchy and attractive miniature it is knocked for six by April-England; a true miniature masterpiece.
I can only agree with both reviewers about the high standard of this recording and applaud Sakari Oramo for bringing a forgotten master back to our attention. Five stars all round.