SOMM Recordings celebrates the centenary of the birth of Ruth Gipps with Dedication, featuring five premiere recordings of chamber works inspired by her clarinettist-husband, Robert Baker, most of which were recently broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week.
Based on a Scottish legend, the early The Kelpie of Corrievreckan (Op.5b) is an evocative miniature for clarinet and piano revelling in Gipps’ facility for locating a human dimension within a tragic fantasy; the Op.23 E-flat Rhapsody for clarinet and string quartet described by Robert Matthew-Walker in his informative booklet notes adroitly placing Gipps’ music within the wider context of her career and personal life, as “a fluent, masterfully eloquent composition”.
The Op.51 Prelude for Bass Clarinet is a heartfelt soliloquy with a series of dance-like variations at its heart.
Two substantial works include the Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet and String Trio, Op.16 – a completion exercise for Gipps’ degree course at Durham University boasting an imaginative intertwining of the individual voices, and the Cobbett Prize-winning Clarinet Sonata composed at a single sitting. “I heard it in my mind and wrote it down as fast as I could scribble”, Gipps later recalled.
Making their debuts on SOMM, clarinettist Peter Cigleris, oboist Gareth Hulse and pianist Duncan Honeybourne are joined by the Tippett Quartet, whose coupling of music by William Alwyn and Doreen Carwithen (SOMMCD 0194) was admired by The Strad for its “radiant insight and affection… beguiling lustre and allure”.
SOMM’s coupling of Gipps’ Piano Concerto with works by Dora Bright (SOMMCD 273) was universally acclaimed, International Piano declaring it “a treat for fans of English music… unmissable”, MusicWeb International hailing it as “simply outstanding… really impressive”, with BBC Music Magazine remarking that Gipps’ Concerto “seizes one immediately with her distinctive personality and voice”.
On This Recording
- Rhapsody in E flat, Op.23 a
- The Kelpie of Corrievreckan, Op.5 ac
- I. Allegro
- II. Adagio
- II. Energico
- IV. Finale. Allegro moderato
- Prelude for Bass Clarinet, Op.51 a
- I. Maestoso, Allegro ma non troppo
- II. Andante con moto
- III. Scherzando
- IV. Maestoso, Allegro molto
Quintet for Oboe, Clarinet and String Trio, Op.15 abe
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano ac
a Peter Cigleris
b Gareth Hulse
c Duncan Honeybourne
d Tipppett Quartet
e Lydia Lowndes-Northcott, viola; Bozidar Vukotic, cello; John Mills
“Ruth Gipps seems finally to be getting the recognition she truly deserves… she was not only a fine composer, but an oboist, pianist, conductor, and educator to boot. … All the performers, including the Tippet Quartet, appear to be totally committed to this music and offer vital and intensely focused performances. Robert Matthew-Walker’s accompanying booklet note provides all one requires. Beautifully recorded, the balance between the instrumentalists is second-to-none. For newcomers who wish to explore the music of Ruth Gipps, this is as good a place to start as any.” —Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International
“a good introduction to the evocative and slyly humorous world of Gipps’ pictorial works. Chamber music is her forte, and she is equally effective in abstract works like the central Quintet for oboe, clarinet, and string trio, Op. 16, wherein the handling of the winds is nothing short of exquisite. Gipps studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams, and one can detect his imprint on her music; it is in a quiet, pastoral vein, but Gipps’ voice is her own, and she extends the harmonies she inherited considerably. The performers, led by clarinetist Peter Cigleris and the Tippett Quartet, are ideally attuned to this music, and Somm’s sound from the Menuhin Hall is flawlessly appropriate. This is a release that will remake the 20th century British chamber music repertory” —James Manheim, AllMusic.com
“The oboe was Ruth Gipps’s main instrument… demonstrated in the lovely Quintet, probably composed in 1941 or 1942 for herself and her husband, clarinettist Robert Baker, to play… The clarinet-writing here is also highly idiomatic – so, too, that for the three string players drawn from the Tippett Quartet – and this is a true dialogue between the five. Nonetheless, the oboe certainly holds a position of primus inter pares and is beautifully rendered here by Gareth Hulse. … The main focus on the disc is the clarinet, however, and Peter Cigleris is wholly within Gipps’s rich, warm-hearted idiom, whether in the Quintet or the Rhapsody with string quartet – the Tippett Quartet providing excellent support – composed in 1941, in which she shows herself at one with the English pastoral tradition without sounding at all like her mentor, Vaughan Williams… Finest of all is the Cobbett Prize-winning Sonata (1956), rightly hailed by booklet annotator Robert Matthew-Walker as ‘one of the finest such works by any British composer’. Cigleris and accompanist Duncan Honeybourne are ideal executants in an account I cannot see being bettered any time soon. Somm’s sound is unobtrusively superb. Recommended.” —Guy Rickards, Gramophone