This disc, featuring the late, much-lamented Richard Hickox conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Joyful Company of Singers, commences with the opening ballet music from Holst's comic opera, The Perfect Fool. The performance is lively and buoyant, and just about as good as any you will find on disc. There is a real sense of excitement in the Dance of the Spirit of Fire.
The disc also includes two of Holst's choral ballets. The Golden Goose, written for MorleyCollege where Holst was Director of Music, is based on the Grimms' story of a princess who could not laugh, while the more serious Morning of the Year was the first work commissioned by the BBC's Music Department. Dedicated to the English Folk Dance Society, it evokes spring-time rites and celebratory folk dances. Both of these works are also available on a 1995 release by Hilary Davan Wetton conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Guildford Choral Society, and it is interesting to compare the Hickox and Wetton versions. Wetton's disc is less polished than Hickox's— the sound and words are muddy and indistinct compared to the crystal clarity of the newer recording—yet his gripping renditions have more drama and fire, and possibly show greater understanding of the music. He makes more sense of the ballets, allowing them to flow, whereas Hickox's versions are slightly bitty. Both recordings therefore have their advantages: Hickox's is a good, clear version, with superb sound, whilst Wetton's has greater spirit.
In addition, this Hickox release features the ballet music The Lure, depicting a moth drawn to a candle flame. Both The Perfect Fool and The Lure music contain shadows of the Planets, The Lure in its martial opening. Like all the works on this disc, it is given a vibrant, energetic performance. Although the choral ballets do not reach the heights of Wetton's renditions, this is nonetheless a superb disc, with some exciting conducting. Anyone who only knows Holst's Planets should buy this disc and explore further.
Vaughan Williams Film Music CHAN 10529
This splendid set brings together the three Chandos discs of Vaughan Williams's film music, previously available as separate discs. There is something to surprise and delight everyone in this attractively presented collection, both perennial favourites including the Scott of the Antarctic music (which later found its way into Vaughan Williams's chilling Seventh Symphony), and less familiar soundtracks, such as those composed for The Dim Little Island and The Loves of Joanna Godden. These dramatic, characterful and vivid pieces are given performances of the very highest quality by Rumon Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic. Highly recommended.
York Bowen Piano Music Vol. 3 CHAN 10506
The third disc in the York Bowen piano music series is as excellent, and well-played by Joop Celis, as the preceding two volumes. It opens with the substantial BalladeNo. 2, published in 1931, and also features a number of premiere recordings: the early Three Pieces, dating from the 1900s, Three Miniatures, Three Serious Dances, Three Preludes (of which, regrettably, only the second two are played here) and the impassioned Three Songs without Words--Bowen seems to have liked groups of three! Joop Celis provides deeply-felt, sparkling performances of this effervescent, lyrical, romantic and original music.
Goossens Symphony No. 1 and Phantasy Concerto CHAN 5068
This disc of music by Eugene Goossens includes the First Symphony and opens with the aptly-named Phantasy Concerto. A fantastical, other-worldly work, it is also at times rather astringent and terse, with a romantic third movement and a Finale which ends in a raucous blaze of sound. The Symphony is fairly heavy and almost unrelenting. There is much grey cloud-cover here, but this is relieved by penetrating shafts of sunlight when the strings suddenly soar. The third movement is extremely reminiscent of Shostakovich, though it lapses into an incongruous English garden romanticism before returning to its previous mood. These forward-looking works are given performances of tremendous energy and commitment by Hickox, Shelley and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Eccles Judgement of Paris CHAN 0759
One might go so far as to call this production faultless. The disc includes the first complete recording of the Judgement of Paris -a fine work, full of invention, dramaticism and delight - given a first-rate, scintillating performance here. Christian Curnyn conducts the Early Opera Company and Chorus, and has a stellar cast: Roderick Williams, with his fine, rich, velvety baritone, is Mercury, Benjamin Hulett is Paris, Susan Bickley an appropriately noble and dignified Juno, Claire Booth a lively Pallas, and Lucy Crowe a tender Venus. The disc also contains a bonus, the Three Mad Songs from A Collection of Songs, very characterfully sung.
Purcell Dido and Aeneas CHAN 0757
This version of Purcell's great opera Dido and Aeneas is based upon the latest research into the opera, and includes several new sections: improvised 'guitarr' dances and a reconstructed chorus. The disc has had wonderful reviews elsewhere, yet I regret to say that I was not personally smitten by the performance. On the whole I found it a bit ponderous, a little lacking in drive and energy, with opening and ending taken at too slow a pace. "Banish sorrows, banish cares" was overly lugubrious and heavy for my taste, and, as a general rule, I found Sarah Connolly's singing as Dido too beautiful to be sufficiently emotional. The famous Lament struck me as forced and laboured, as if the grief were contrived rather than felt. I was also slightly bemused by the Echo Dance of the Furies, at the end of which the orchestra disintegrates into an atonal mess. On the plus side, the big-name soloists -including Gerald Finley, Lucy Crowe, the exquisite John Mark Ainsley, and Rebecca Outram— sing superbly, and the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment are spot-on musically (if not interpretatively, from my point of view). There is some fine musicianship on a disc that many others will appreciate and welcome.
Berkeley Songs of Lennox Berkeley CHAN 10528
An excellent collection of songs by an often underrated composer, this disc presents works written throughout Berkeley's life, from the early D'un vanneur de blé aux vents, composed in 1924 when Berkeley was only 21, through to Sonnet, written in 1982. Although the influence of Britten is very strong, Berkeley nevertheless has a distinctive voice and it is fascinating to hear how, though naturally developing his talents, he remained true to this throughout his years as a composer. The most substantial piece on the disc is the song-cycle Autumn's Legacy. For this depiction of the autumn landscape Berkeley drew upon different poets, including Beddoes, Tennyson, and W H Davies. The songs are given excellent performances by James Gilchrist, with his rich tenor and lively musical intelligence, accompanied by pianist Anna Tilbrook and (in the Five Herrick Poems) Alison Nicholls on the harp.
Brian Symphonies 6 and 16 Cooke Symphony no. 3
This is a re-issued and digitally re-mastered LP recording from the early seventies, presenting symphonies by Havergal Brian and Arnold Cooke. All three works are short and, at times, terse, lasting for approximately twenty minutes. Brian's Sixth Symphony was composed in 1948 and was originally described as a sinfonia, the Sinfonia Tragica. He later re-classified it as a Symphony (which required re-numbering of his many other symphonies). Loosely-based on J.M. Synge's tragic play Deirdre of the Sorrows, it is a cogently- argued work in one movement, with three sections corresponding to the three acts of the play. Unlike the later Symphony No. 16 of 1960, it has many lyrical moments interspersed between flashes of exhilarating orchestral writing, and the contrasting effect is wonderfully captured by the LPO under Fredman. No 16 is a much more uncompromising work, written after Brian had finally settled in Shoreham-by-Sea in 1958. Again, it is in one movement— although six sections are discernible— and concludes with a most concise coda. The apparent difficulties of the work are ignored in this virtuosic performance by the LPO and Fredman. Those wishing to 'dip their toes' into the symphonic sound-world of this enigmatic and pioneering twentieth-century composer need look no further.
Arnold Cooke's Third Symphony is more conventional, if laid out in only three movements (à la Bax), and lasts under twenty-five minutes. It occupies a more traditional sphere than Brian's works, its sound reminiscent of many English symphonies of the period. This well-honed, brilliantly-scored work receives an idiomatic performance by the LPO, this time under the assured baton of Nicholas Braithwaite.
Bridge Piano Trio no. 2, Miniatures, Phantasy Piano Quartet, String Quartets 3 and 4 SRCD 302
This is a very welcome re-issue of a recording made in the 1970s, digitally re-mastered for this Lyrita two-CD set. Those who are familiar with FrankBridge's music will know that it underwent a remarkable transformation after the First World War. Prior to 1918 his output was in the English late romantic tradition, including such seminal works as The Sea (which captivated the young Benjamin Britten when he heard it at Norwich). Bridge's change to a more introspective and austere style began with the Piano Sonata of 1924 (in memory of his friend Ernest Farrar, killed in the war). It was at about this time that Bridge became the protégé of the eminent American music patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, an excellent pianist in her own rigt. Her patronage enabled Bridge to compose full-time and to produce the three major works on these two discs, the two string quartets and the Second Piano Trio.
The first disc features the Allegri Quartet's ground-breaking recordings of the late Third and Fourth String Quartets, written in 1927 and 1939 respectively. Although Bridge's musical influences are often ascribed to Schoenberg and Berg and the atonal Second Viennese school, these pieces are much more rhapsodic and have defined (if sometimes fluctuating) tonalities. At no point do they indulge in the fragmentary and dissociated note-clusters so beloved of Schoenberg et al. They are, however, undoubtedly complex pieces, with a kind of terse lyricism and brooding inner strength that challenge and yet beguile the listener. Though not easy listening, this disc rewards repeated playing. Needless to say, the Allegri Quartet are incomparable. These recordings, although over thirty-five years old, still retain their place at the forefront of the available versions.
The second disc contains the excellent Second Piano Trio of 1929, played by the Tunnell Trio. Again, this is an exceptionally clear and lucid (if somewhat introspective) interpretation of a piece that some claim to be Bridge's chamber music masterpiece. Premiered in London in 1929, with Harriet Cohen at the piano, it had mixed reviews and never achieved the international success of the Third Quartet.
If light relief is needed at this point, this is provided by the Miniatures for Piano Trio and the Phantasy Piano Quartet of 1910 (one of the many W.H. Cobbett commissions). Here the trio are joined by violist Brian Hawkins. Again, the performance is faultless. This superb disc of important works is highly recommended.
Rawsthorne, Berkeley, Bush SRCD 256
Another digitally re-mastered disc from recordings made in the seventies, this features works by three lesser-known English composers born at the beginning of the last century: Berkeley, Bush, and Rawsthorne.
Sir Lennox Berkeley's music has had a chequered performance and recording history. Although some of his works hold their place in the repertoire, such as the Serenade for Strings (1939) and the opera A Dinner Engagement (1954), major works such as the Violin Concerto and the grand opera Nelson are yet to be recorded. This disc includes the Sonatina for Violin and Piano Op. 17 (1943), and the Sextet for Clarinet, Horn and String Quartet Op. 47 (1954). These both receive masterful and insightful performances: the Sonatina is performed by Hugh Bean on violin and David Parkhouse on piano, the Sextet by Frances Routh, Christopher Wellington, and Eileen Croxford of the Music Group of London, along with Jack Brymer (clarinet) and Alan Civil (horn). The three contrasting movements of the Sonatina are beautifully captured, especially the transition from the rather severe Lento to the gentle and pensive Theme. The following variations, from delicate and joyful to brusque and mordant, sometimes recall Berkeley's friend Britten's Frank Bridge Variations. The Sextet perhaps shows a little of the French influence that Berkeley absorbed in thirties Paris as a pupil of Nadia Boulanger, encountering and befriending both Ravel and Poulenc. It is played here with great aplomb, the two wind soloists blending expertly with the quartet. From the sombre fugato opening of the Lento second movement to the sparkling and incisive Allegro last movement, the differing moods of the work are all captured with spontaneity and precision.
The Music Group of London then continue with the frenetic first movement Moto Perpetuo of Alan Bush's Piano Trio Op. 31. This is followed, in an abrupt change of mood, by a rather dirge-like Nocturne in which violin and cello are sinuously and sinisterly intertwined, building to a swirling climax before a calm conclusion. Another mood-change ushers in the whimsical and syncopated last movement, inspired by a Bulgarian folk-song and marked Alla Bulgara. It is played with a real feel for the source material, and ends with a superbly-articulated coda.
Next, we have an appearance by Bush himself, playing four contrasting short piano pieces. These include the ruminative, contemplative The Cruel Sea Captain and the quixotic and ephemeral Galliard and Air from Suite Op. 54, and finish with the more contrapuntal and substantial Corentyne Kwe-Kwe, based on an African folk-song; it reminds us what a highly-accomplished pianist Bush was.
Much more challenging for both listeners and (I imagine) performers is the Quartet for Clarinet, Violin , Viola and Cello by Alan Rawsthorne, played by members of the Aeolian Quartet with Thea King. The first movement, Moderato, features twisting contrapuntal lines interrupted by clashing string dissonances, whilst the second movement Lento builds up to a fearsome climax before tailing off quietly. The work finishes with an Allegro Risolutu, in which all the instruments are expertly, seamlessly intermingled in a mechanistic and cacophonous introductory section before the movement unwinds in a restrained and reticent fashion. The players, especially King, seem to revel in this uncompromising but brilliantly-scored work. This is a fine end to an excellent disc that makes a welcome return to the catalogue.
Bate, Vaughan Williams and Bell CDLX7216
A superb disc of English rarities opens with Stanley Bate's Viola Concerto. Bate studied at the Royal College of Music under Vaughan Williams and Jacob. Despite the fact that he died early, at 47, he left a large output including four symphonies, five piano concertos and three violin concertos, amongst other substantial works. His Viola Concerto is dedicated to his teacher, Vaughan Williams, and is a luscious, romantic and lyrical work, with an intriguing touch of darkness and mystery. Shades of Vaughan Williams are occasionally present in the way the viola takes flight, and in the more powerful and apocalyptic passages in the first movement. This is followed by a brooding second movement and playful third, and we have more Vaughan Williams touches in the radiance and triumph of the intense last movement - yet Bate nevertheless has his own distinctive voice. The Concerto is followed by Vaughan Williams's beautiful Romance, orchestrated and played superbly by Roger Chase. William Henry Bell studied at the Royal Academy of Music and also took counterpoint lessons at the Royal College of Music under Stanford. He was primarily an organist, and played at the Abbey in his home-town of St Albans. Bell spent the second half of his life in South Africa, where he was the Director of the South African College of Music in Cape Town. Rosa Mystica, the title of his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, usually refers to the Virgin Mary, and since Bell prefaced the score with two verses from the fifteenth-century carol The Flower of Jesse by John Audelay, we wonder whether he might have intended the Concerto to have a Christmas theme. It is, in any case, another powerful work. The BBC Concert Orchestra are on top form under the assured direction of Stephen Bell, and Chase proves an accomplished and passionate soloist throughout the recording.
Arnell Symphonies 1 and 6, Sinfonia Quasi Variazioni CDLX 7217
The Sinfonia Quasi Variazioni, which opens this Arnell disc, is a pleasant and inventive work. It is followed by the first, neo-classical symphony with its quirky searching quality and tuneful last movement Presto, and then by Arnell's last symphony, the sixth, separated from the first by fifty years. The sixth is less to my personal taste than the first, which is easier on the ear and, I feel, slightly more coherent than the more modern, astringent sixth—though the latter is still worth hearing.
Elgar/Rooke Piano Trios CDLX7216
A fascinating disc of world premiere recordings opens with Paul Adrian Rooke's completions of three Elgar piano trio movements which date from 1920, 1882 and 1924 respectively. The first is characteristically Elgarian: wistful, poignant, and confidently composed. Elgar composed the second movement for a performance at his friend Charles Buck's house in Settle, Yorkshire, and since he later reworked it as the salon piece Rosemary it will be familiar to listeners, as will the last movement, March for the Grafton Family. This was a version of the Empire March of the same year, rewritten for Elgar's sister and her family. Rooke has done an excellent job of reconstruction and these, although three short pieces, nonetheless make a valuable contribution to Elgar scholarship. Maddison's Piano Quintet and Bridge's Piano Quartet follow. The latter is a serious, substantial work, lyrical and appealing, yet also powerful and intense. The Fibonacci Sequence perform with sensitivity, understanding and musicality, on a disc that is well worth hearing.
Creith, Pitfield and Arnell Violin Concertos CDLX 7221
Another intriguing release from Dutton contains three violin concertos by less familiar English composers. It begins with Guirne Creith's Concerto in G Minor of 1932-4. The piece is wistful and romantic, these qualities brought out superbly by soloist Lorraine McAslan, with sensitive accompaniment by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Martin Yates's excellent direction. The concerto's incredibly tender second movement contains some especially beautiful playing from McAslan. The ensuing Pitfield Concerto Lirico, the disc's most recent piece (composed in 1958), is an aptly-named work full of the sounds of nature and the English countryside, with a highly-charged, deeply emotional and impressive finale, and a radiant ending. A most expressive performance of Arnell's intense and searing Violin Concerto in One Movement concludes the disc. Here is a disc to convince any sceptic that the current resurgence of interest in English music comes not a moment too soon.
Purcell Mr Henry Purcell's Most Admirable Composures CDH55303
This reissue on Hyperion's budget label, Helios, contains a selection of exquisite Purcell songs, performed by James Bowman and the King's Consort under the direction of Robert King, and recorded in Radley College (which now hosts some of the annual English Music Festival recitals...) The disc presents a good range of songs, including many of the best-loved (Fairest Isle, Music For a While, If Music Be the Food of Love and One Charming Night) as well as some that may be slightly less familiar to listeners (such as With Him He Brings the Partner Of His Throne, Celia Has a Thousand Charms and Ah, How Sweet it is to Love). Bowman's interpretation is very different from that of the countertenor most associated with Purcell, Alfred Deller, whose performances, though not as technically accomplished as Bowman's, are far more emotional. Bowman's renditions are cooler and less involved than the impassioned Deller's. That is not to say that they are not also deeply moving, only that that they are a little more careful and less frenzied. His voice is also purer, glossier, and more consistent than Deller's. Those who adore Deller may not, therefore, find this quite to their taste, but for anyone who is happy with a straightforward and clear rendition, this would be a superb choice.
William Byrd Hodie CDA67653
Volume 11 of the Cardinall's Musick's Byrd Edition features music from the Cantiones Sacrae (1591) and the second book of motets, Gradualia (1607). Expertly directed by Andrew Carwood, the Cardinall's Musick are on top form in this wonderfully uplifting devotional music. Ravishing interweaving voice lines, glorious textures, and tremendous musical understanding from the performers; what more could one want?
Elgar First Symphony and Falstaff 8.111256
In the continuing 'Elgar conducts Elgar' series on the Naxos Historical label, this CD reaches new heights. Elgar's original 1930s EMI electrical recordings of the First Symphony and Falstaff have been re-issued previously on both LP and CD, and the versions here are re-mastered from fine original 78s rather than the master recordings that EMI used in the seventies and eighties. However, this does not in any way detract from their quality. The transfers are superb, with a very warm sound, minimal hiss and few clicks.
Elgar's own interpretation of his First Symphony has always been at the forefront of the available recordings, despite the inevitable limitations of its sound quality. It was listening to this very recording that inspired Georg Solti's ground-breaking LP with the LPO in the seventies, which dispelled the myth that the work is over-long, self-indulgent, ponderous, jingoistic, and tub-thumping (all these adjectives have been used to describe it) and revealed it instead as a cogently-argued symphonic tour de force. It is common to hear live and recorded performances lasting well over one hour. It is incredible that Elgar takes only forty-six minutes (less than the time of fifty-one minutes that the marking in the full score suggests). The symphony proceeds from beginning to end with tremendous sweep and panache, in a superlative interpretation that shows why its dedicatee, Hans Richter, described it as the "greatest symphony of modern times."
In addition, the disc contains one of the last recordings that Elgar made. The symphonic study Falstaff was regarded by Elgar as his best orchestral work, and this finely-wrought performance certainly demonstrates that it was one of his most inspired. Yet again the LSO (of whom Elgar was the first principal conductor) are on tremendous form and it is hard to accept that this work was recorded nearly eighty years ago--both in terms of the scintillating playing and the sound. Again, the transfer seems warmer, quieter and more immediate than the EMI remasters of thirty years ago. Given the complexity of the score, it is not surprising that some of the orchestral detail is obscured (and the final scene seems to me a little understated). On the whole, however, this is a brilliant rendition on a very highly recommended CD.
Stanford First Symphony and Clarinet Concerto 8.570356
Stanford's First Symphony is here given an elegant performance under the masterly baton of David Lloyd-Jones. The symphony has an unusually long first movement, a dancing and almost Mahlerian second movement (which might have benefitted from a slightly lighter touch and a little more rhythmic freedom), and a lively and energetic fourth movement. It is paired with the Clarinet Concerto, now one of Stanford's best-known works, in which Robert Plane is the excellent soloist. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is outstanding in these two delightful works.
Ireland Sextet and Clarinet Trio 8.570550
This disc of chamber works by John Ireland opens with the Trio in D for clarinet (Robert Plane), cello (Alice Neary) and piano (Sophia Rahman)--an unusual item, as Ireland withdrew the work after its first performance. It has been reconstructed by the Canadian clarinetist Stephen Fox and proves a most charming work, with a wonderfully mysterious and expansive third movement. The Trio is followed by the Fantasy Sonata for clarinet and piano, Robert Plane's arrangement of the much-loved Holy Boy (also for clarinet and piano), and concludes with the most substantial work on the disc, the slightly Brahmsian Sextet for clarinet, French horn (David Pyatt), and string quartet (the Maggini Quartet), with a particularly radiant performance of the tender second movement.
Parry Choral Masterpieces 8.572104
A lovely programme of works with decent --if not exceptional-- performances, this disc opens with I Was Glad When They Said unto Me, yet the start of the work is laboured, slow and heavy, generally lacking in punch. The choir is also too small to do this great work justice, and one can hear the trebles straining; larger forces are really required. Good renditions of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis are followed by the Songs of Farewell. Again, the full-bodied, enthusiastic performances of the latter are by no means bad, but I found that this lusty approach rather lacks refinement, and means that some of the music's subtleties and nuances are lost. Hear My Words, Ye People follows, and then Long Since in Egypt's Pleasant Land from the oratorio Judith, featuring some beautiful treble singing. The disc concludes with a rather careful and studied rendition of Parry's best-loved work, Jerusalem. A good, safe bet, but not the most thrilling interpretation of these works.
Also recommended: Frank Bridge Piano Trios (8.570792). The disc opens with a wistful and rhapsodic performance of the gorgeous Phantasie Trio in C minor (Piano Trio no. 1). This is followed by the mysterious and whimsical Piano Trio No. 2 and the Nine Miniatures for Piano Trio, in which the performers (Jack Liebeck on violin, Ashley Wass on piano, and Alexander Chausian on cello) superbly bring out the changes of mood, from playful to serious. Splendid!
Spratley Music for String Orchestra TOCC 0088
This disc of music by Nottinghamshire-born composer Philip Spratley opens with his Sinfonietta (last revised in 1982), which evokes the old Midland Railway in parts. This is followed by a clarinet concerto, Byard's Leap, describing the exploits of Byard the horse, who escaped a wicked hag by a series of incredible jumps. The work is well-played by Linda Merrick. A recorder concerto honours Spratley's love of cats by portraying these loveable animals and their activities, with John Turner the lively soloist. The disc ends with the more serious In Outlaw Country, a musical depiction of the Robin Hood territory in which Spratley grew up. Barry Wordsworth conducts the Royal Ballet Sinfonia in the opening Sinfonietta, and the composer himself leads the Manchester Sinfonia in the other works. All the pieces receive high-quality performances. These are entertaining, pleasant works, pastoral and folk-influenced in the English light music tradition.
Various Composers By the River in Spring dda 25069
A disc of English music for flute and piano opens with an evocative performance of Harty's 'tone-picture' Ireland, followed by German's delightful Intermezzo and Michael Head's By a River in Spring, in which Kenneth Smith (flute) and Paul Rhodes (piano) successfully paint a lovely picture of the title subject. Smith and Rhodes also bring out the mysterious air in the following Flute Sonata by Alwyn. This is followed by two Havelock Nelson pieces (the jazzy Eirie Cherie and the attractive, light In Venezuela) and Dunhill's Valse Fantasia, a weightier piece with lilting dance episodes. Leighton's Flute Sonata is the most substantial piece on the disc, both in terms of length and its serious, abstruse quality, but it is still pleasant on the ear. Stanford Robinson's The Moon Maiden's Dance is suitably atmospheric and striking, and the disc concludes with the best-known work of all, German's lyrical Suite for flute and piano.
Although these are good performances of charming works, an entire disc of flute music could be rather unrelenting, so unless you are a devotee of the flute, it is better to dip into this release, rather than listen to it from start to finish.
Avison Trio Sonatas and Keyboard Sonatas dda 21214
Regular readers may have noted my reviews of the Divine Art Avison recordings last year, and another admirable disc now joins the growing catalogue. The latest two-disc set comprises the Six Sonatas for Two Violins and a Bass (Disc 1) and the Six Sonatas for Harpsichord, with accompaniments for two violins and a violoncello (Disc 2). The performers are again the outstanding Avison Ensemble, with Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding on violins, Richard Tunnicliffe on cello, and Robert Howarth on organ and harpsichord. The music is lovely, and the works are performed with insight and conviction. -Em Marshall