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Cat. No. CHAN 10259 Price: £4.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10259 - Goossens: Five Impressions/ Pastorale et Arlequinade/Four Sketches/Suite/Three Pictures
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Available From: 11 October 2004
Listen to Eugène Goossens’ music and you are immediately struck by its lively imagination and fluent lyricism. He was much influenced by the shimmering sound world of turn-of-the-century Paris. In all the pieces on this disc, everything is precisely calculated and delicately balanced – he delighted in piquant harmony and the elegantly turned phrase. Goossens was once the white hope of British music, prodigiously talented and well connected. Between the two world wars, his music was held in as high esteem as that of Bax, Bridge and Walton and he contributed greatly to British musical life, championing much contemporary music – even the first English performance of The Rite of Spring in the presence of Stravinsky. He appeared to live a charmed life – and at the height of his career, he took up a position with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, inspiring a new generation of young musicians and turning the orchestra into a world-class outfit.

In private, though, Goossens was a man of unconventional tastes. He had always been drawn to the occult, and in Australia he embarked on a passionate affair with a notorious self-styled witch, Rosaleen Norton, who initiated him into her coven.

Goossens was knighted in London in 1955, and while he was away, police searched Norton’s flat on a tip off. Love letters were found, and, on his arrival back in Sydney, his luggage was searched and a collection of pornographic photographs he had been carrying were seized. He departed Australia in utter ignominy, unable to resurrect his career. He died alone in 1962.


Reviews

This is a delightful recording. Susan Milan and the London Chamber Music Group play with fine balance and close attention to the constant shift of colour and dynamic. Milan’s beautiful tone – sometimes powerful, sometimes delicate – is exactly what this dapper music needs. Anyone looking for exciting changes from the usual chamber music fare will enjoy this.
American Record Guide

'Susan Milan leads the performances with well-rounded, appropriately French-sounding tone, and the excellent pianist Ian Brown stands out in the stalwart supporting cast.'
BBC Music Magazine

Goossens was a bit of a bovine maverick. The cow escaped the barn, jumped the fence, swam the Channel and ended up in France. You could say that Goossens’ music is what you get when you blend English pastoralism with French Impressionism… That said, the performances are exquisite. Flutist Susan Milan, who plays almost continuously throughout is superb. As always, Chandos’ rich, fulsome recording highlights every silvery tone and harp vibration.
Fanfare

'Sir Eugene Goossens is best known today as a conductor of the older generation, yet he was a first-class composer, too, in a traditional style which became unfashionable when the serialists took over. The language is delightfully civilised, the invention melodic and harmonies felicitous. It is presented here with attractive life and spontaneity, very like a live concert.'
Gramophone

'This is a highly enjoyable disc of unfamiliar, very well-written music, given first-rate performances in excellent sound.'
International Record Review

 

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