Wednesday 9 March 2016

A new release of music by F L Dunkin Wedd from Con Brio highlights the often masterly ability that this composer has in setting texts

I am always pleased to welcome a new release of music by English composer F L (Laurie) Dunkin Wedd . This new recording from Con Brio entitled Sunset Over the Weald includes a work for brass quintet, played here by the Burrells Brass Quintet, and a number of songs.

Con Brio

The Burrells Brass Quintet (Matilda Lloyd  and Katie Lodge (trumpets), Jake Rowe (horn) , William Barnes-McCallum (trombone) and Nic Walker (tuba)  open Sunset over the Weald with a steady plod as the theme slowly moves forward. Soon there is a short rhythmic moment before the opening pace returns, slowly developing with some fine brass textures and timbres. There is another short rhythmic moment before the music moves ahead with the rhythmic motif incorporated into the slower plodding theme, thereby finding some momentum and flow. It moves through passages that constantly develop the theme with, later a little trumpet ‘fanfare’ before slowly plodding forward again. The music rises with more force through some distinctive passages before reaching the coda.

This is a most attractive and distinctive work finely played by this quintet in a recording that is close and immediate.

Harp Song of the Dane Women for mezzo-soprano and piano proves to be a really fine setting of a poem by Rudyard Kipling, at times quite affecting especially when beautifully sung, as it is here by Elspeth Marrow, sensitively accompanied by Christopher Gould . It rises in passion before a lovely coda.  

These two artists are nicely recorded in a natural acoustic.

Remember for mezzo-soprano and piano sets a poem by Christina Rossetti and again features Elspeth Marrow with Christopher Gould. This song shows just how well this composer is able to shape the music to the text. There is some lovely phrasing and control of dynamics from this mezzo who with her accompanist finds every little nuance in this fine setting. There is a beautifully done gentle coda for piano.

Bass/baritone Roberto Mancusi is joined by pianist Johnathan Vest  for Invictus a setting of a poem by William Ernest Henley. Mancusi brings a sultry atmosphere and rich textures in this curious setting that holds the ear with its sometimes quizzical, often passionate, turns of phrase. Mancusi finds some really fine deep notes in the coda.

Flowers of Zen for soprano and piano sets Haiku poems by the Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō translated by Lucien Stryk. Sung here by Eleanor Meynell with Christopher Gould, piano there is a slow delicate piano opening before the soprano tentatively enters. Dunkin Wedd is quite masterly in the way he slowly and gently sets this text, creating a delicate, quite wondrous feel which is perfectly suited to these poems.  Both these artists deliver an exquisite performance bringing the upmost feeling, sensitivity and understanding – a real winner.

Three Women’s Poems from World War One for soprano and piano features poems by Eleanor Farjeon, Margaret Postgate Cole, and Winifred M Letts. Sung here by Dilys Benson, Easter Monday brings another really fine setting beautifully sung with much character and feeling with a particularly fine accompaniment from the wonderful Clifford Benson, rising in passion at the end. What Reward is a livelier song in which these performers give all the passion and feeling that one could wish for in this effective setting. The Veteran is a quite exquisite setting. Dunkin Wedd knows just how to turn a phrase to the exact effect to lift the text. Dilys Benson finds so many little nuances with Clifford Benson providing expert accompaniment especially in the momentary dissonant chords before a passionate coda for piano.

These three settings really are very fine, finding so much of the eloquent pathos of the texts. The recorded sound in this last set of songs has a rather boxy acoustic but in no way mars the enjoyment of this terrific trio of songs.

This is another fine collection of works by this composer highlighting the often masterly ability that he has in setting texts. There are full English texts in the included notes. Whilst having a duration of around 27 minutes this new release sells for around £5.

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