This 2-CD set pairs together two musicians of very contrasting characters, but with respect to music, they have quite a lot in common. Both were marvellous orchestrators, with works that are totally accessible and involve the listener throughout. Their chamber music may be counted as amongst the best in the British repertoire.
Arnold Bax's work is represented by the legendary and atmospheric Folk Tale of 1918, the imaginative and beautifully shaped Cello Sonata, the stirring "Sonatina" of 10 years later and the deeply expressive Legend-Sonata of 1943, considered by many to be one of Bax's best chamber pieces.
Gordon Jacob's contribution is less conspicuous, but the highly technical Divertimento for Solo Cello of 1955 and the poignant 1959 Elegy are perfect examples of Jacob's ability to create short but telling works.
This issue is also a fitting tribute to the famous cellist Florence Hooton, who was renowned both as a virtuoso and as a fine teacher. Jacob's "Divertimento" was in fact dedicated to her, and was written with her special talents in mind. Her performances are memorable in every sense of the word with beautiful singing tones and total mastery of "legato" passages. She is also able to generate a strong dramatic excitement when the situation warrants it. Wilfred Parry's hearty support also contributes fully to some exceptional music-making. The 1960's mono recordings are more than adequate and this is truly attractive fare all round.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech