A Stanford-pupil, friend of George Dyson and long-time Principal of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Conservatory, Edgar Bainton emigrated to Australia in 1934, and thus sadly faded from the British music scene. All the works premiered here cover the early part of his creative period, from the early 1900s, prior to his emigration.
This is immediately attractive and accessible music is performed here by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Paul Daniel. When Fanfare reviewed volume one of Clifford/Bainton orchestral works, they asked ‘Why have these compositions been neglected for so long? This album is a real eye-opener, for these are accessible, melodic and powerful Romantic works.' In this recording, entirely dedicated to Bainton the same question should be asked for this disc merits the investigation of anyone who enjoys venturing off the beaten track.
The earliest work recorded here, The Golden River, is taken from the Newcastle years and takes its inspiration from the short story by John Ruskin. The original version was completed in 1908 before being completely revised and a new third movement added in June 1912 - the version you hear on this recording. Last performed in 1913; this is the first time it has been heard in over 90 years.
In 1914 while en route to the Bayreuth Festival, Bainton was apprehended as a British civilian in wartime Germany and interned for the next four years in Ruhleben Camp near Berlin. He was placed in charge of music-making at the camp and became acquainted with a number of other musicians, including Ernest MacMillan and cellist Carl Fuchs. Despite many hardships this four-year exile proved to be a period of great creativity, resulting in Three Pieces for Orchestra and a piano concerto, his Concerto Fantasia, which he completed in 1920, and was awarded a Carnegie Prize. Bainton's approach to Concerto Fantasia is original, (although possibly sparked on hearing Busoni's Piano Concerto in 1909) the ‘Fantasia' element being created by the opening cadenza which continually re-appears at various stages of the work and an integral part of the thematic material. At a performance given in Birmingham in 1921, with Bainton as soloist, the critic Alfred Sheldon wrote ‘... the event introduced to Birmingham the most considerable contribution to the repertory of music for piano in combination with orchestra we have had from a composer for many years'.
Here the work is performed by Margaret Fingerhut, who has an extensive discography with Chandos. In a recent review she was described as ‘an accomplished and stylish advocate' (BBC Music Magazine). Completing the repertoire is Bainton's only published orchestral work, the poignantly Pavane, Idyll and Bacchanal.
'All of these expertly played, engineered and annotated performances deserve a place on any self-respecting collector's heaving shelves... some of the most gloriously perfumed, gently ecstatic music ever to emerge from the pen of an English composer. Margaret Fingerhut, one of the most radiantly musical of pianists, plays with such alluring sensitivity and effortless command that one cannot help but be one over.' International Piano
'Paul Daniel, as usual, delivers focus and energy in these performances. He brings out a great deal of harmonic, orchestral, and contrapuntal detail, but momentum never falters; not even in the highky elastic flow of the Improvisation's final pages from the Concerto fantasia. The BBC Philharmonic is fully alive to the colouristic demands of each work, notably in the sharply accented string writing of the Bacchanal and the rich, constantly shifting orchestral textures of the elegy. Margaret Fingerhut has the technical and colouristic demand to do full justice to the Concerto Fantasia.' Fanfare
'Margaret Fingerhut's limpid pianism proves tailor-made for such gorgeously lyrical tenderly poetic and subtly integrated offering, which bids farewell in the sunset glow of a somewhat Baxian epilogue.... The BBC Philharmonic under the sympathetic baton of Paul Daniel seem to enjoy the experience, and the engineering is as ripe and accommodating as we have come to expect from Chandos. More Bainton, please!' Gramophone
'Bainton is, however, worth knowing, and is strongly espoused in these premiere recordings by Paul Daniel and the excellent BBC Philharmonic.' BBC Music Magazine
'These performances vindicate the decision to revive him, with Margaret Fingerhut excelling in the concerto's outpouring of lyricism.' The Telegraph
'The performances under Paul Daniel, though, with Margaret Fingerhut the agile soloist in the Concerto Fantasia have just the right sparkle and elegance.' The Guardian