Acclaimed pianist Piers Lane and his fellow Australians, the Goldner String Quartet, reprise their highly successful partnership in these world-premiere recordings of the two String Quartets and Piano Quintet of Irish composer Hamilton Harty. Born in County Down, Harty (18791941) was a remarkable, self-taught musician who wrote in a lyrical Romantic idiom, as evidenced in these appealing works, while incorporating a modal astringency and folk-music charm that are reminiscent of Percy Grainger. In particular, the winding, pentatonic melody of the Lento of the Piano Quinteta lusciously big-boned work worthy of Tchaikovskyand the delightful hop jig of the first movement of String Quartet No 2 seem like settings of folk-melodies that have echoed for centuries around the green hills of Ireland. Intriguingly, however, they are entirely Hartys own invention.
Hamilton Harty's string quartets and piano quintet are early works, his Opp 1, 5 and 12 respectively. They were composed in the early 1900s, straddling Harty's move from his native Ireland to London, where he quickly established a career first as an accompanist and then as a conductor. The quartets are fluent if unremarkable works, indebted mostly to Mendelssohn's chamber music, though with a melodic charm of their own, but the piano quintet is much more impressive. It's a real discovery: a big, bold statement full of striking melodic ideas and intriguing harmonic shifts, which adds Brahms and Dvo ák into Harty's stylistic mix, together with Tchaikovsky in some passages. The performance by Piers Lane and the Goldner Quartet makes it even more engaging. Lane strikes a nice balance between assertiveness and delicacy in the piano writing, with the Goldner's refinement and beauty of tone providing the perfect foil; their accounts of Op 1 and Op 4 are equally poised and immaculate. **** --Guardian,26/04/12
I have thoroughly enjoyed rediscovering Harty, and these three charming pieces in particular, and I welcome this release with enthusiasm: no one could fail to enjoy it. --IRR,May'12
Lovingly performed. Performance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Jul'12