BBC Magazine CD Review – ‘The Moon Sails Out’ by Malcolm Hayes

Works for cello and piano by Scott, Venables, and Gurney.

Richard Jenkinson (cello), Benjamin Frith (piano)

EM Records ERM CD 031

Can the gift of fluency become, in terms of deeper creativity, a kind of limitation? The absolute technical ease, as natural as breathing itself, on display in the two Cyril Scott works here show that this was a composer who could do anything-an English representative of the generation of Debussy and Scriabin, with an Idiom sharing their kind of supple mastery of phrase and harmonic penetration. Yet a deeper sense of focus in the music is missing. The Cello sonata’s opening bars for the piano (beautifully shaped by Benjamin Frith) set up a degree of expectation which the work’s rhapsodising four-movements design never quite fulfils-beguiling though the sounds themselves are, especially when graced by the tawny richness and an unexaggerated line of Richard Jenkinson’s ‘cello-playing. Ivor Gurney’s single-movement Sonata, whose lyrical manner is more limpid and crystalline than Scott’s, seems to retreat in the same compulsive way from truly saying something in musical terms. By comparison, the sense of purpose and sureness of line in Ian Venables’ music is pure oxygen. Among his song transcriptions, At Malvern is lifted clear out of routine English pastoral territory b its haunting melody and poised accompaniment. And Poem, an original cello-and-piano work, probes memorably into a much darker sound-world. Malcolm Hayes

Performance ****

Recording ****