Piano Trio, Op.17
String Quartet No.3, Op.18
Conflict and Consolation, Op.19
Lowbury Piano Trio [Pauline Lowbury (violin), Ursula Smith (cello) & Elizabeth Burley (piano)]
Recorded on 10 November 1997 in St Georges, Bristol
Schidlof Quartet [Ofer Falk & Rafael Todes (violins), Graham Oppenheimer (viola) & Oleg Kogan (cello)]
Recorded on 19 April 1997 in the Music Department, University of Exeter
Members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra
Recorded on 13 November 1996 in St Augustines Church, Kilburn
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: October 2005
CD No: TOCCATA CLASSICS
Duration: 65 minutes
The launch of Toccata Classics includes six initial releases, all distinguished by being of unfamiliar repertoire, or with new slants on the known (Mozart violin sonatas arranged for cello, for example), – and thus intriguing and stimulating.
This issue of music by Matthew Taylor (born in London in 1964) is most welcome. Although the CD is arranged, reasonably enough, in opus number order (covering 1993-96), it is maybe best to play first the last piece on the disc, Conflict and Consolation, a striking work written for brass and percussion that opens arrestingly with a percussion tattoo and an explosion of brass. A strong piece, vividly living up to its title, Taylor’s musical language recalls Tippett and Simpson without aping either, and Taylor’s economy and variety is appreciable, not least through the use of various mutes; his vibrant exploration of timbre keeps one’s ears attentive. Conflict and Consolation sustains its 17 minutes well, and this superbly recorded and expert performance conveys considerable preparation.
Of the two chamber works, both produced by Andrew Keener, the 30-minute Piano Trio is powerful and compelling, music of purpose, rich expression and numerous points of inner recess. In three movements – although the composer (who has written the booklet note) suggests that the work can be perceived as being in two parts, the split being halfway through the extended Theme and Variations movement – and he also cites a Beethovenian influence; certainly there’s a rough-hewn grandeur that appropriates to this. There’s also simplicity at times, and such rumination again invokes Tippett. The Theme and Variations – charting something of a darkness-to-light trajectory – is a superb achievement of sustained invention.
The concise String Quartet No.3 is a three-movement investigation of the possibilities of a chord. Such analysis does not necessarily relate the music’s industry, yearning and humour.
A splendid release, then – dedicated performances, fine sound, and excellent presentation of communicative music of serious intent in traditional forms.