Dinah and Adam Pounds have been giving recitals for many years both in Cambridge and London and in particular at St. Bride’s, Fleet Street where they have made regular appearances.
At a time when authenticity is celebrated by the proliferation of early music groups that pursue performance convention and ancient instrument construction, Dinah and Adam have concentrated on the aesthetics of the music by giving instinctive performances. These have been linked to the historical context of the composers but as they are performed on modern instruments and all the music is arranged there is scope for creative performance.
This CD contains many pieces where no dynamic markings would have been given and the tempos are loose. As we have no recordings from this period, it is impossible to know exactly what was intended and indeed Baroque music has been subjected to much interpretation over the years with full blown Victorian performances where the size of the orchestra would have been unknown to Bach and his contemporaries and romanticised arrangements of those such as Elgar and Stokowski.
The performers hope that the music on this recording connects favourably with the listener. The combination of the flute and guitar has been described as enchanting and beautiful and it is a combination that is very much at home with the music of the Baroque period.
The Stapleford ‘Granary’ arts centre commissioned Adam Pounds to compose a clarinet quintet for the ‘Goldfield Ensemble’ as a response to their artists in residence scheme. The live (first) performance on this disc was recorded on 19th September 2014.
The Clarinet Quintet is closely related to the String Quartet no.2 (2005) which is also in one continuous movement and encompasses a range of moods and emotions. Throughout, the clarinet takes the leading role either melodically or providing counter- themes or decoration to the string writing. The coda gives the feeling of an unresolved conclusion. This is a quotation from an earlier orchestral tone-poem Life Cycle. (1992)
The two Sonatinas featured on this CD are both for flute and piano. Lennox Berkeley composed his Op.13 in 1939 and it was originally conceived as a piece for treble recorder and piano. Its three movements contrast yet unite well. The first is the most substantial and is followed by a simple but highly engaging and charming Adagio. The last movement shows Berkeley in his Gaelic style with a quirky and playful Allegro moderato. The Sonatina by Adam Pounds was written in 2008 for his wife, Dinah. It again has three very contrasting movements all of which are linked by the harmonic progression and characteristics of the slow movement. Fourths abound in this work, the result of the guitar tuning of which Pounds is so familiar.
The Three Pieces for Flute and Guitar are arrangements by Pounds from Five Short Pieces for Piano op.4 by his teacher Lennox Berkeley composed in 1936. Pounds had always found these to be engaging from the harmonic point of view and also for their simple beauty. Berkeley has written a large amount for the guitar and for the flute and so it is therefore understandable that the combination of both works well.
Pounds String Quartet no.2 was composed in the winter of 2003, some twenty-five years after the first. It derives most of its material from two main subjects. The first is modal and fugal in style and the second is homophonic and reflective. Throughout the work, the two themes take on different guises but it is the second theme that is developed in different ways. The modal theme, however maintains its dignity throughout the work. The coda is based on a combination of the two themes which brings the piece to a philosophical conclusion reflecting on the juxtaposition of peace and turmoil.
The opening music of the song-cycle Time composed between 1991 and 2011 illustrates Sonnet no.7 by Shakespeare. This is intended to be recited by the singer at the start of the performance. Song no.1 first appeared in 2007 as Blake’s Drum and was the result of a commission from the Michaelhouse Centre, Cambridge. There is a self-quotation starting on the word ‘drear’ (Earth rais’d up her head from the darkness dread and drear...) This theme was first used in Pounds’ Symphonyno.1 and it also appears in the Piano Quartet of 2001. The second song was composed in 1991. This song also contains a self-quotation. The music illustrating the line ‘That thou among the waste of time must go’ is to be found in the Violin Sonata, an earlier work. The final song of the set was finished at the beginning of 2011 to the words of Shelley. The poem chimes well with the composer’s own reflections about the passing of time. The piece ends with an epilogue using the music from the start but this time with the addition of the viola and some light percussion.
Performed by Academy of Great St. Marys and Stapleford Choral Society
As a Londoner, Adam Pounds has always been fascinated by the city's history and life and after the composition of his London Festival Overture for the Waltham Forest Arts Festival (commissioned by Greater London Arts), it was only a matter of time before he would set some London poetry to music. Symphony was especially composed for the combined forces of the Academy of Great St. Mary's and the Stapleford Choral Society.
The work is scored for a standard symphony orchestra, S.A.T.B. choir and a baritone soloist. The piece opens in celebratory mood setting the words of William Dunbar a 16th century poet and the music has traces of Walton's influence in it. However, it isn't long before the music turns to a more reflective mood and we hear the words of George Eliot's In a London Drawing Room. This really explains the idea behind the work in that we scratch the polished veneer of the great city and we find a vast array of lifestyle, history opulence and poverty.
The solo baritone conveys the loneliness that can be experienced even in a crowded environment and he plays his part as the ghost in Shadwell Stairs by Wilfred Owen and also features in Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth. There is also a 'Docker's song' where the words 'dirt and grime' are given a brutal, mechanical treatment. Between the Wordsworth and the Owen, Adam has inserted a short orchestral interlude. The theme of this is based on the famous Westminster Chimes. This is appropriate as the chimes although strongly associated with London were composed in 1793 for a new clock that was installed in Great St. Mary's, Cambridge. The piece concludes with the words of the Amy Levy who was the first Jewish woman to study at Cambridge University. Her evocative poem A March Day in London provides some beautiful descriptive lines.
Pounds' essay is characterised by interest, excellent orchestration and traditional form. It is well-played on this recording by the Academy of Great St Mary's conducted by the composer.
— John France, Musicweb International
Symphony (CR006) is available from:
Performed by Stapleford Choral Society, Academy of Great St. Mary's & Adam Pounds
All of the works recorded on this disc have a connection with London. The choice of pieces moves through the centuries culminating with the first 'live' recording of the 'London Cantata' by Adam Pounds.
The 'London Festival Overture' by Adam Pounds was composed in 1987 and was the result of a commission from the London Borough of Waltham Forest with funding from the Greater London Arts to celebrate the Waltham Forest Arts Festival.
The following pieces are fine examples of part-songs and sacred choral works ranging from the Purcell 'Funeral Sentences' composed for Queen Mary who died in 1694 to the anthem 'If Ye Love Me' by Adam Pounds. Stanford and Parry are also represented as is Elgar who all had connections with the Royal College of Music. And no collection of English music would be complete without that of Handel.
The 'London Cantata' was especially composed for the combined forces of the Academy of Great St. Mary's and the Stapleford Choral Society during 2016-17. The work is scored for a standard symphony orchestra, S.A.T.B. choir and a baritone soloist.
The piece opens in celebratory mood setting the words of William Dunbar, a 16th century poet and the music has traces of Walton's influence in it. However, it isn't long before the music turns to a more reflective mood and we hear the words of George Eliot's In a London Drawing Room. This really explains the idea behind the work in that we scratch the polished veneer of the great city and we find a vast array of lifestyle, history, opulence and poverty.
The solo baritone conveys the loneliness that can be experienced even in a crowded environment and he plays his part as the ghost in Shadwell Stair by Wilfred Owen and also features in Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth. Between the Wordsworth and the Owen there is a short orchestral interlude. The theme of this is based on the famous Westminster Chimes. This is appropriate as the chimes although strongly associated with London were composed in 1793 for a new clock that was installed in Great St. Mary's, Cambridge. The piece concludes with the words of Amy Levy who was the first Jewish woman to study at Cambridge University. Her evocative poem A March Day in London provides some beautiful descriptive lines.
This is a piece to be enjoyed by all but will probably have even deeper meaning for anyone who has lived in or loves our capital city.
London Cantata is available from:
Performed by Adam and Dinah Pounds
The combination of flute and guitar has been described as enchanting and beautiful and this is surely demonstrated by the works featured on this recording. The Ramirez guitar is stylistically acceptable as a continuo instrument in the early works by Blavet and Rameau but it is perhaps in the other compositions where the combination of the two instruments brings a different perspective on well-known pieces.
The playing is inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable... a fascinating recording
— John France, Musicweb International
A sound that's clean and immediate, crisp on the strings yet mellow on the flute... beautifully played and most sympathetically recorded
An engaging and very intimate recording of three pieces performed by one of the UK's leading Quartets, performed at Heydon Church. Includes the world premiere recording of the String Quartet No. 2 by Adam Pounds, and an exceptionally emotional and strong performance of the Shostakovich Quartet No. 3.
String Quartet No. 2, composed by Adam Pounds (track no. 4 on this CD), is available as a free download here. It may not be available as a digital download from all the suppliers listed below.
The Bingham Quartet was completely committed and competent... a well-balanced recital with a convincing programme