Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
Fantasy on an American Hymn Tune, op.70 (1974)
Robert Kahn (1865-1951)
Trio Serenade, op.73 (1923)
John Psathas (b. 1966)
Island Songs (1995)
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Oblivion (1982), arr. Roelof Temmingh (b. 1946)
Robert Delanoff (b. 1942)
Trio (1965)
Mátyás György Seiber (1905-1960)
Introduction and Allegro
Delphine Trio (Magdalenna Krstevska (clarinet), Jobine Siekman (cello), Roelof Temmingh (piano))
rec. 2023, Studio 1, Muziekcentrum van de Omroep, Hilversum, The Netherlands

The most significant, and longest, work on this disc is Kenneth Leighton’s Fantasy on an American Hymn Tune. The tune is The Shining River, a hymn that Pastor Robert Lowry wrote during a typhoid and cholera epidemic in Brooklyn. The sentiment of the words is straightforward: “We are parting at the river of death: Shall we meet at the river of life?” Lowry’s words and tune preface Leighton’s score, and give a message of “universal hope and consolation transcending personal sadness”.

The six linked sections of the Fantasy progress towards a satisfying “clarification and glorification” of the found melody. It balances reflection, “driving rhythmic passages” and jazz-infused episodes. Unnamed singers begin the performance with the hymn tune and words. The Delphine Trio offer a dynamic reading. (The liner notes do not say that Gervase de Peyer, William Pleeth and Peter Wallfisch premiered the work on 8 July 1975 at the Cheltenham Festival.)

Robert Kahn was 73 when escaped from Germany in 1939 to settle in the South of England. The Serenade has several incarnations. He wrote it for oboe, horn and piano, but with alternatives for nine instrumental combinations. (He completed the score when he was living in Berlin.) Its single movement is divided into sections. You will enjoy this serene, occasionally melancholic, post-Brahmsian work, which presents no challenges.

John Psathas’s Island Songs, an attractive three-movement piece, explores traditional Greek dance music seen through the eyes of the composer. As the liner notes say, these include the zeibekiko and the sirto. There is an overall impression of “latent energy” even in the thoughtful slow movement. Psathas emulates traditional Greek instruments such as the dulcimer and the stringed outi. The piece, written for the Kadinsky Ensemble, has been re-scored for string trio.

Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion has been arranged for many combinations of instruments; Roelof Temmingh realized the present version. The piece was devised for a performance of Pirandello’s Enrico IV in 1984. The liner notes do not say that apparently it is a slow milonga, a predecessor of the tango. It is melancholic from the first note to the last.          

I had not heard of the German composer Robert Delanoff earlier. He specialises in chamber music for “unusual instrumental combinations”. The present Trio explores an eclectic stylistic range. There are nods to Debussy and Hindemith, and not a few hints of jazz. The liner notes correctly point out the sense of humour in the Scherzo final movement. Yet the heart of the Trio is the melancholic, very beautiful Nocturne.

I am always delighted to see Mátyás Seiber’s work on a new release. The Introduction and Allegro was scored for cello and accordion; the composer made the present arrangement. It shows all the excitement and vivacity of folk music from Seiber’s birthplace, Hungary.

The liner notes are adequate – I quoted from them, with thanks – but more details of each number would have been helpful. Not all dates of the works are given.

The Delphine Trio’s three musicians come “from opposite ends of the globe”: Australian clarinettist Magdalenna Krstevska, Dutch cellist Jobine Siekman and South African pianist Roelof Temmigh. Their performances are outstanding, and they are clearly sympathetic to the repertoire. A crisp, balanced recording is an asset.

This excellent debut album serves its purpose by shining a light “on [some] beautiful hidden gems of the clarinet trio repertoire”.

John France

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