JOHN BARTON ARMSTRONG (1923-2010): Cello Sonata, PETER THOMSON (b.1955): Sonatina for Cello and Piano, BOHUSLAV MARTINU (1890-1959): Cello Sonata No. 2.
Catalogue Number: 02Q061
Label: Sleeveless Records
Description: Armstrong is an intriguing figure; a musical prodigy, his polymathic talents led him into a variety of entirely non-musical professions before reverting to music in the 1960s, whereupon he produced a significant body of ambitious works for various forces, including this half-hour sonata. Apparently he distrusted established forms and -isms, and this work's free, somewhat improvisatory structure, in which motifs are introduced, explored for a while and then abandoned as though with impatience, the music moving on to something entirely different, bears this out. The idiom is based firmly in tonality, bearing an identifiable 'Englishness' of phrase - but only sometimes - with shades of Bax, or Moeran, or Vaughan Williams; but there is also a tough strain of post-Bartok dissonance and percussiveness. Thompson was part of a loose-knit group of composers around Armstrong, and the idiom of his Sonatina is broadly similar to Armstrong's, though more conventional in both harmony and especially in form. Lionel Handy (cello), Nigel Clayton (piano).