MALCOLM LIPKIN (1932-2017): String Trio, Pastorale, Clifford’s Tower (Nash Ensemble. Original 1986 Hyperion LP release), Prelude and Dance (Nicholas Trygstad [cello], Janet Simpson [piano]), Naboth’s Vineyard (John Turner [recorder], Simpson [harpsichord]), Interplay (Turner [recorder], Trygstad [cello], Simpson [harpsichord], David Corkhill [percussion]), The Journey (Turner).

Catalogue Number: 08W047

Label: Divine Art

Reference: dda 25202

Format: CD

Price: $17.98

Description: For no good reason whatsoever, recordings of Lipkin's music, which was invariably individual and of the highest technical and expressive quality, are few and far between, though fortunately his three taut, concentrated, and powerful symphonies are still available (08R008). These works for small ensembles exhibit the same qualities. Naboth's Vineyard recounts the Biblical story of the scheming Jezebel, the weak, avaricious Ahab, the upright, God-fearing Naboth, and the prophet Elijah's emphatic denouncement of the king's treachery, in a series of 'dialogues' between the characters, represented so vividly by different instrumental timbres and material that, after hearing the work, one might be amazed to realise that no sung text contributed to the story-telling. The Prelude and Dance were written as a tribute to Jacqueline du Pré the year she died. The somber, reflective Prelude quotes the Elgar Cello Concerto, and the sinewy, celebratory Dance symbolises the great cellist's resilience in the face of her devastating disability. Interplay was commissioned by Carl Dolmetsch for a diverse, all-star ensemble concert at the Wigmore Hall. Lipkin's exquisite sense of timbre and balance is perfectly illustrated by this study in co-operative contrasts, in which the choice of percussion instruments - none of them of the retiring variety - nevertheless join the conversation with the unusual instrumental group. Clifford's Tower is a major work, unavailable since the deletion of the Hyperion LP from which this performance is taken. A tense, musically tough denunciation of a particularly horrific slaughter of the Jewish population of York in the 12th century, the piece pulls no punches in its evocation of brutality and violence, shocked lament, and a final, faltering attempt at hope. The Pastorale is very "English" and autumnal in mood, while the large, four-movement Trio is tautly argued and eloquently expressive, with a dramatic first movement, a lively, rather spectral scherzo, a long-breathed slow movement of wistful character, which gains in intensity as it goes on, and an ingenious, decisively climactic variation-finale. Lipkin used tonality with considerable freedom, but it is always an unmistakable presence in his idiom, and the works are readily accessible throughout.

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