Founded in 1979, the British Music Society’s aim has been to encourage and renew international enthusiasm for British music of the last 150 years that has remained undeservedly neglected. While that mission remains intact, the society’s means of promoting and disseminating discs is now aligned with Naxos’ distribution and marketing operations. The existing catalogue of some 30 recordings will be reissued on the Naxos label when appropriate, while new recordings produced by the society will appear on the Naxos label. A bi-monthly programme of releasing British Music Society recordings on the Naxos platform begins this month with two attractive discs: the first features instrumental and vocal music by Maurice Jacobson, while the second is devoted to 20th-century cello and piano music.
Maurice Jacobson was regarded in his lifetime as a “musician extraordinary” such was his versatility as a composer, performer and music administrator. His works are fundamentally classicist, varying from the timeless austerity of The Lord is my shepherd, the popular accessibility of The Music Room and the virtuoso Carousal, to the concentrated and deeply felt Lament. The Theme and Variations is a rich and wide-ranging work originally written for large orchestra. These interpretations with the composer’s pianist son Julian Jacobson reap the benefits of access to original manuscripts and an unparalleled intimacy with the composer’s intentions.
Listen to an extract from The Song of Songs
“As the composer’s son I am particularly delighted to have been able to bring Maurice Jacobson’s vital, colourful and emotionally rich music to a modern public. Amongst other things, my father was a pianist, conductor, publisher, adjudicator and lecturer. But composition was always the activity closest to his heart and he left an impressive total of some 500 works. The piano writing on this disc reflects his youthful virtuosity (he had had some lessons from Busoni), while the vocal and cello writing is always grateful and reflects his huge experience as a practical musician.” - Julian Jacobson
British music for the cello flourished in the first decades of the twentieth century and created a fertile seed bed for the gifted generations of composers to come. The four composers heard on this recording never achieved widespread fame, owing to early death or a reluctance to promote their music, but their contribution to the repertoire is substantial and very personal. Two of the works—by Busch and Leighton—were composed for the well-known cellist Florence Hooton. The programme is played by one of the most admired duos of recent times, Raphael Wallfisch and Raphael Terroni.
Listen to an extract from Leighton's Partita. Variation III: March
“I am delighted that these four brilliant works are being released on Naxos. The William Busch is a marvellous work, totally unknown but virtuosic and colourful for both instruments. Kenneth Leighton's Partita is a magnificent and serious work, as are the sonatas by Wordsworth and Cooke. It has been one of the greatest joys in my life to rediscover and promote such music by British composers.” - Raphael Wallfisch
Companion discs of British repertoire
8.572640 Malcolm Arnold
Cello Concerto/Symphony for Strings/ Fantasy for
Recorder and String Quartet
“Crisp, intelligent readings.” - Classic FM 5 stars
8.572595 Giles Swayne
“Excellent performances and recordings.” - BBC Music Magazine
8.572288 Lennox Berkeley
“The playing here is spectacular.” - American Record Guide
8.572289 Howard Ferguson
“First-class performances of durable repertoire.” - Gramophone
8.572580 Edwin York Bowen
Music for viola and piano
“Music-making that is warmly expressive and deeply satisfying.” - Fanfare
8.557206 Benjamin Britten
Les Illuminations/ Our Hunting Fathers/
“Dame Felicity Lott is superb.” - International Record Review