GMCD 7133 – English Romanticism III – Jeremy Filsell plays Goossens
Jeremy Filsell – Piano
Gramophone August 1997
Eugene Goossens was more renowned as a conductor than as a composer. although he wrote for a range of resources including piano, chamber groups, orchestra and opera. The majority of his piano music was composed before 1924 and is therefore the work of a young man. To be honest the pieces played here are varied in quality; for me the most involving work is Kaleidoscope, a kind of English Kinderszenen with titles such as “March of the Wooden Soldier’ “A Ghost Story” and “Lament to a Departed Doll”
Jeremy Filsell is a gifted performer as a pianist and also as an organist. and he is a most convincing and persuasive guide to this repertoire. He has an especially pleasing colour at softer dynamics; the calm of the final piece from Kaleidoscope, entitled “Good Night”. is beautifully judged – Where necessary he is inwardly brooding (as in ” Awakening” the first of the three Nature Poems), or outwardly ebullient (as in the Rhythmic Dance. a work for two pianos in which Filsell plays both parts through overdubbing) – The Four Conceits are also imaginatively and expressively played, as is the colourful transcription of the “lntermezzo” from Goossens’s opera Don Juan.
In summary this is an excellently played and recorded collection of variable music, although the best pieces are worth sifting out – It may be of interest that Guild plan a release of Filsell playing the two sonatas (one for organ. and the lesser-known one for piano) by Julius Reubke – Now that is something to look forward to.
Eugene Goossens is remembered chiefly nowadays for his conducting activities, although he wrote a lot of music too, and was at one time bracketed with the likes of Walton and Bax as one of the coming generation of British composers in the inter-war years. This new CD offers a complete recording of Goossens’ output of piano, and partially vindicates the esteem in which his music once was held.The most attractive items are the 12 short pieces collectively entitled Kaleidoscope, a kind of English Kinderszenen-equivalent, with Schumannesque titles such as “The Rocking Horse”, “A Ghost Story” and “Good Night”. These are sharply-etched and jocular little illustrations, which, while drawing fairly heavily on the angularities and sprightly elegance of Ravelian keyboard style, are nonetheless cleverly and entertainingly planned.
The four Conceits of Op.20 are in a similar vein but elsewhere, for instance in the longer Nature Poems of Op.25. Goossens loses the melodic plot, and the writing becomes much more diffuse and bland. An interesting recital, then, but one which is of uneven musical content.
Performance: Fans will like it
Sound: Crystal Clear
A very well played and recorded disc of interesting if uneven rarities.
EUGENE GOOSSENS complete piano music. Jeremy Filsell (piano) 76’19” 32 tracks
All praise to Jeremy Filsell and Guild for continuing this series. The disc is devoted to the piano music of a single composer; greatly preferable to the mixed recital approach. This fills a substantial gap in the catalogues. Some of these pieces must be premiere recordings but not all of them. Kaleidoscope has been recorded by Raphael Terroni on the first BMS cassette and also by Rich-ard Dering on Saga. The Nature Poems (1919) were previously recorded on cassette (Swinsty FEW119) by Alan Cuckston. The Moeran/Bax influenced Folk Tune has also been recorded previously (Richard Rodney Bennett). It is a pity that the East of Suez music and Forlane and Toccata (for clavichord) could not have been fitted in on this already generously filled disc.
There are many pleasures here. The sound world is often impressionistic with subtle but distinctive melodies drifting in and out of focus. Occasionally I was reminded of Scott, Bax and, above all, Frank Bridge. Filsell projects the many moods with poetry and dash. The virtuoso element is certainly there but Goossens the poet is the abiding impression. Discoveries include the composer’s arrangement of the Intermezzo from his 1937 opera Don Juan de Manara, another piece with a witch of a tune, pulse-quickening but oddly difficult to whistle afterwards. The bluff, gusty, sea-salty suite Ships; the over-dubbed Rhythmic Dance (for two pianos and last heard in Michael Broadway’s pianola revival on Radio 3 some years ago); the gentle tone painting of Bacchanal from Nature Poems which arches into a rainbow melody, glittering and cascading and the artlessly songful Folk Tune, make this a desirable CD.