Simon Heffer's articles for the Review section of the Saturday Daily Telegraph are often interesting - and on 26 May he wrote about contemporary English composers, and Ian Venables (who lives in Worcestershire, in particular.
His words are worth quoting: "Venables, a miniaturist, writes exquisite chamber music in the English style of Howells or Ireland...His works, which have instant charm for intelligent listeners while being intensely musical, are performed rarely in the great temples of chamber music such as the Wigmore Hall or the Purcell Room. Nor are they broadcast frequently on the main classical music stations. He delights audiences in the provinces - while metropolitan taste is deemed different...and Venables is frozen out.
The two Venables CDs I have been listening to lately are immensely rewarding. The first, The Song of the Severn (Signum Classics with Roderick Williams) includes two song cycles and nine other songs....to hear them is to hear something reflective, brooding, melancholy and unmistakably English. The second CD (Somm) featuring Venables's Piano Quintet and other chamber works, is a revelation. The Quintet...is an exceptional work with many shifts of tone and varieties of expression, and if Venables's excellence could be symbolised by just one piece, it would be this. Again, it proves that composers can be original without being dissonant or unappealing.
Most recently, Venables has set the verse of five Great War poets in a new song cycle, Through These Pale Cold Days. (The premiere and recording) should be regarded as events of national importance in our musical culture."
Blog written by Jill Davies, who runs the Severn Muses project as well as Chamber Music Plus.
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