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A chance to assess a rarely recorded composer,
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This review is from: Chamber Music (Endymion Ensemble) (Audio CD)York Bowen was an almost exact contemporary of Bax and came to prominence at the beginning of the last century. After the First World War, his music fell out of fashion and, although he continued to compose into the 1950s, was almost totally neglected. One reason put forward to explain this decline was his failure to develop as a composer. He was immune to the modern trends of the time and continued to write in a late romantic style until the end. On the present CD, for the example, the Trio of 1945 could have been written at the same time as the Rhapsody Trio of 1926. I think that this matters less with the passage of time and the music should be judged on its merits and on its own terms.
The three works on this disc are all beautifully written. The melodies are often memorable and the invention is frequently of a high order. His harmonic world may be a bit bland for listeners who like a little vinegar with their music and there is an emotional diffidence which slightly restricts the range of expression. The openings of the horn quintet and rhapsody trio are striking and highly imaginative. Despite the reservations, I really enjoyed this music, and found the horn quintet particularly impressive.
The Endymion Ensemble give nigh on faultless performances with a recording to match. Lewis Foreman, the reknowned expert on British music, has written the excellent insert notes. This is one of a distinguished series of releases by Dutton Digital devoted to British chamber music.