FOULDS Orchestral Music Vol 3
Both previous instalments in this valuable series (reviewed by Edward Greenfield in 11/10 and 4/11) boasted more than their fair share of gems, and much the same applies to this newcomer. The programme begins with the three-movement orchestral suite Undine that Foulds wrote in 1898 when he was just 17, and I for one can certainly endorse annotator Malcolm MacDonald’s shrewd observation that the teenager ‘handles the orchestra with instinctive flair, alive to the properties of every timbre…there are already characteristic gestures that would recur in Foulds’s later music’. The mood of piquant, fairy-tale charm extends to the Miniature Suite of 1913, whose four movements derive from Foulds’s sizeable incidental score to Harold Chapin’s Christmas play for children entitled Wonderful Grandmama and the Wand of Youth (premiered at Manchester’s Gaiety Theatre on Boxing Day 1912). Completed in 1935, the Chinese Suite also comprises an enjoyable discovery, with its strongly pentatonic idiom and colourful use of tuned percussion (try the third movement, ‘Procession to the Temple of Heaven’).
Elsewhere, A Gaelic Dream-Song (1922) emerges as a fetching cousin to Foulds’s popular Keltic Lament (1911), whereas the 1935 Gipsy Czárdás cribs quite outrageously from Brahms and Liszt – no wonder it was written under the pseudonym of Karl Kotschka. Rather more palatable are the Scène picaresque and Basque Serenade, though perhaps the most hauntingly original invention on the entire disc can be found in the three Kashmiri-inspired miniatures (Boat Song, Wedding Procession and Boat Song on Jhelum River) that Foulds penned between 1936 and 1938 after he and his family had moved to India.
Lively, affectionate-sounding performances under Ronald Corp’s sympathetic direction have been pleasingly captured by the Dutton microphones.