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Charles Foster
Charles Foster

Conversazione (Rhytmically Jazz Mix)

The most famous name on the tracklist is Sir Lennox Berkeley, who with his refined and playful style creates sardonic smart fun à la Poulenc. The neoclassical of Richard Arnell and Stephen Dodgson reminds of Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith, while constant Lambert's jazz seeps between the staves of Trois pièces (only for white keys!). The Italian-British piano pair surprises with an inspired, yet down-to-earth interpretation that highlights the elegance and eloquence of four hands playing.'

Conversazione (Rhytmically Jazz Mix)

'Julian Perkins' performances match the originality and creativity of Howells' music. Indeed, the playing itself champions the cause to hear these pieces played on the clavichord, such that the listener may find it difficult to return to the hackneyed sound-world of the piano. As Howells' compositional skills seem to exist in a playpen of creativity, so Perkins' playing evokes sounds one would think unimaginable on such an instrument. The performer's experience of keyboard music of the past is a great asset to the skill and understanding with which he performs these works, which often foray into realms of advanced modernity. The lyricism of the playing in intimate gems such as 'Lambert's Fireside', and the Purcellian 'Wortham's Grounde' in Lambert's Clavichord; and 'Goff's Fireside' (a real highlight on the 1952 [Goff] instrument, and a striking change of colour on the recording), and the touching epitaph 'Finzi's Rest' in Howells' Clavichord, is counterbalanced by playing of extraordinary zest and vibrancy. Perkins conjures a brass-like fanfare in 'E B's Fanfarando', whilst seeming to evoke mosquito-like buzzing from the quiet trills. A pleasing feel for the slow dance of the gentlemanly 'Dyson's Delight', with its delicious English harmonic twists, is immediately offset by music that feels like it has emerged from the jazz-club in pieces such as 'Jacob's Brawl', and 'Hughes's Ballet'. There are moments in these upbeat pieces that achieve a percussiveness that would be impossible even on the modern piano. Perkins' touch at the keyboard often evokes the sounds of the lute and guitar, especially in the attractive 'Julian's Dream', a homage to the lutenist and guitarist, Julian Bream. Howells' Clavichord concludes with 'Walton's Toye', an explicit extemporisation on Walton's Crown Imperial. Such deference to a musical colleague, whilst at the same time epitomising his own personal style, is indicative of the pleasure this collection of endlessly surprising pieces can give. Highly recommended for both clavichord aficionados, as well as the uninitiated!'

It is always a pleasure to trawl through the catalogues of libraries looking for interesting music, and Julian and I have spent many a happy hour in the British Library doing just that. It may be conjecture that many of the pieces we've chosen were performed at an Ottoboni conversazione, but they are certainly representative of the many shifting stylistic trends in the composition of cantatas at this time. Some of the works chosen are better known than others (both Handel cantatas have been recorded several times), but all are testament to the incredible musical goings-on of those composers who worked in or passed through Rome.

St. Louis boogie style of blues continued to be popular all throughout the 30s, intersecting with the swinging blues jazz styles that were emerging in the Midwest. At the same time, a rougher and more rural style of blues, incorporating harmonicas and slide guitar, was beginning to be heard in the city as well, giving life to trios and small groups.

At the beginning, Leonard and Phil focused their recording and publishing ventures primarily in the area of popular jazz, but soon expanded into blues. Chess Records was a fixture in the world of music and its recordings and the songs remain the most impressive collection of blues music in the world. From their experiences in the nightclub business on the South side of Chicago, the Chess brothers understood the popular preferences of their predominantly African-American audiences, but also saw the marketability of blues music to a broader audience. In the beginning Chess Records was ran as a two man business, with Phil overseeing the nightclub and the offices of Chess, while Leonard alternately scouted talent, produced the sessions, and hand delivered fresh recordings to radio stations in the Chicago area. 041b061a72


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