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All the items on Anthony Goldstone and Caroline Clemmow’s new disc are transcriptions, those of Midsummer Vigil, Escales and The Forgotten Rite (‘The Forgotten Quite’, as Ireland ruefully quipped) made by the composers themselves. Alfvén’s evergreen Rhapsody may no longer be ubiquitous – I first encountered it (well, its opening tune) in my grandmother’s musical box – but it remains delightful and follows a vivid rendition of Nikolai Artsybushev’s artful transcription of Night on Bald Mountain. Mussorgsky’s initial sketch was for piano and orchestra, but here we have Rimsky-Korsakov’s virtuoso, sanitised version; it would be instructive to hear a transcription of Mussorgsky’s finished (and I use the term loosely) orchestral poem. At first hearing I felt Goldstone and Clemmow’s pianissimos needed to be more finely drawn, but the coda, with a real bell heralding dawn, attains a deeper quietude superbly prepared for.

Faring best on the keyboard is Escales (‘Ports of Call’), a colourful, evocative suite of thumbnail portraits depicting stopping- off points in Ibert’s Mediterranean honeymoon cruise. In these terrific performances (‘Storm’ sounds great fun to play) one can hear that Britten had the orchestral medium in mind throughout. The Forgotten Rite, a rather restrained affair that no amount of injected sparkle from the players can enliven, and Vassily Kalafati’s effective arrangement of Lyadov’s beautiful The Enchanted Lake complete a nicely judged programme that is superbly played and recorded with clarity – though one needs to listen closely to hear the piano’s body being hit (replicating the tambourine) in Escales.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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