Toccata Classics – Hugh Wood Chamber Music

0 of 5 stars

Hugh Wood
Overture for Piano Trio, Op.48
Variations for Viola and Piano, Op.1
Paraphrase on ‘Bird of Paradise’ for Clarinet and Piano, Op.26
Poem for violin and Piano, Op.35
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op.40
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op.24

The London Archduke Trio [Nathaniel Vallois (violin), Gabriella Swallow (cello) & Charles Wiffen (piano)]
Paul Silverthorne (viola)
Roger Heaton (clarinet)

Recorded 2-4 April 2007 at Champs Hill, Cold Waltham, Pulborough, West Sussex

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: May 2010
Duration: 80 minutes



This very welcome and generous release is a much-needed retrospective of the chamber-music of English composer Hugh Wood (born 1932).

Included is Wood’s official Opus One, Variations for Viola and Piano (1958), a superb mix of form and content. Such rigorous organisation does not preclude wide-ranging characterisation. Beginning the CD is Overture for Piano Trio (2005), a short expressively burgeoning piece composed for Peter Cropper, Moray Welsh and Martin Roscoe.

Intense lyricism, dramatic contrasts and economy are the hallmarks of Hugh Wood’s music, and every note matters in the pieces presented here, even in the theatrical Paraphrase on ‘Bird of Paradise’ with its shadows and striving. Poem for Violin and Piano is extraordinarily beautiful and compelling, richly sung and soaring to emotional heights. The two trios are similarly top-grade, music that grips the attention through melodic power, structural certainty and force of communication. Both pieces enjoy subtle interplay, deftness, pathos, the piano trio more angular, ethereal and scurrying than the mellower work featuring clarinet.

With dedicated performances recorded in the presence of the composer and in excellent sound, this release, sporting detailed annotation, presents music of substance and outreach that is a pleasure to get to know and return to.

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