American Record Guide

English Fantasy
BAX: Fantasy Sonata; BRIDGE: 3 Pieces; VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Romance; 6 Studies in English folk song; Greensleeves; A Winter's Willow; BRITTEN: 6 English Folk Tunes; GRAINGER: Sussex Mummers' Christmas Carol
Doris Lederer, viola; Jude Mollenhauer, harp
Centaur 2570 - 69 minutes

The English seem to be particularly apt at fashioning music that reflects the English spirit and yet is most comfortable, peaceful, relaxing, and imbued with nostalgia and melancholy. Couple the lyric freshness of the eight selections heard here with arrangements by Lederer and Mollenhauer for viola and harp and one has a “serious” artistic version of those chintzy compilations such as “Music for a Rainy Afternoon”. By making this comparison I truly do not mean to denigrate this recording.
Much of the music is rarely heard; only the Greensleeves fantasy and the Britten Folk Tune Arrangements are familiar. Only the Bax Fantasy Sonata (1927) was originally composed for viola and harp; the others are arrangements. 'Winter's Willow' (1903) is an original simple song (text by W Barnes) for voice and piano; the folk song studies were originally for voice and piano; the Romance for viola and piano. Frank Bridge's Three Pieces were originally for viola and piano. The Bax and Bridge compositions were composed for viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis (1876-1975). The familiar Britten folk-tune arrangements ('The Sally Gardens', 'Little Sir William',The Ash Grove', Oliver Cromwell', 'O Can Ye Sew Cushions?', The Trees They Grow So High' are for voice and piano.
Both artists are American virtuosos in their own right. Ms Lederer has been a member of the Audubon Quartet since 1976 as well as a distinguished soloist. Jude Mollenhauer (Jude is presumably pronounced Judy) has been principal harpist of the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony since 1985 and has been active in chamber music. Both are superb musicians, and their program is a musical treat.

CHARLES PARSONS
March/April 2003

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