Jane Booth and Steven Devine provided us with a scintillating hour of English music from the late 19th/early 20th century yesterday afternoon.
Two sizeable clarinet sonatas by Sir Donald Francis Tovey and Sir William Henry Hadow were the main items on the menu, joined by an exquisite ‘Albumleaf’ for solo piano by York Bowen. All of these pieces richly deserve to be better-known. It was a particular pleasure to welcome in the audience Michael Bryant, who had edited Hadow’s rarely-performed sonata some years ago.
Both Tovey and Hadow are better known for their musical writings than for their compositions. Both had close connections with Brahms and his circle, and their musical language in these clarinet sonatas reveals that connection very strongly, especially on the instruments we heard yesterday: Jane was playing a 1910 Buffet and Steven was playing the lovely Bluthner grand from New Malden Methodist church.
The next MiNM concert is on 14 May (we’re taking a break over Easter) and will feature the very welcome return of the Guildhall Cantata Ensemble, directed by James Johnstone, who have enthralled us in two previous visits with sacred and secular works from 17th century Italy, Germany and England.
PS – advance warning that the final concert in Series 9 (11 June) will now be a solo piano recital of sonatas by Haydn and Mozart given by John Irving (fortepiano), replacing the horn and piano extravaganza by Czerny and Schubert, which has been postponed until Series 10.