Chamber Music
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A comprehensive view of this major British composer's chamber works.

Bernard Stevens was born in London and studied at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music in London, where he gained the highest awards. After his army service he came briefly to national prominence in 1946 with a highly acclaimed performance in Albert Hall of his deeply considered and utterly un-jingoistic Symphony of Liberation, which won a competition sponsored by the Daily Express newspaper for a "Victory Symphony " to celebrate the end of World War II. Stevens spent much of the rest of his career lecturing at the RCM (also, latterly, at the University of London), and was a tireless champion of contemporary music, an indefatigable examiner, and that rare being, a born teacher - whose warmth, encouragement and intellectual stimulation is remembered with gratitude and respect by his many pupils. In the 1950s and 60s, as Britain strove to catch up with the Continental avant-garde, his robust independence of fashion hardly helped to gain his works prestige. Nor did his politics endear him to the establishment. Occasionally, wryly, he spoke of himself as one of an "almost lost generation" of British composers; yet as a craftsman and a musical mind he must be judged one of that generation's leading figures. Since his death in 1983, there has been a remarkable upsurge of interest in Stevens's output. His music impresses the hearer immediately by its warmth and imaginative logic, its firm architecture and commitment to the traditional crafts of counterpoint and variation. His works include an opera on J.M. Synge's The Shadow of the Glen (recorded on Albany TROY 418), two symphonies, three concertos, cantatas and other choral pieces, piano music, songs, and other compositions for instruments as diverse as natural trumpet and guitar. Stevens was especially drawn to the chamber medium, for its possibilities of vigorous dialectical argument and intimate expression; and in it he produced several of his most characteristic and important scores. His two string quartets and the Lyric Suite for string trio are available on Albany TROY455. This recording presents five more chamber works spanning almost his entire working life.
Bernard Stevens, composer
Piano Trio, Op. 3
Kenneth Sillito, violin, Stephen Orton, cello, Hamish Milne, piano

Bernard Stevens, composer
Sonata for Violin and Piano in one movement, Op. 1
Kenneth Sillito, violin, Hamish Milne, piano

Bernard Stevens, composer
Trio for horn, violin and piano, Op. 38
Timothy Brown, horn, Kenneth Sillito, violin, Hamish Milne, piano

Bernard Stevens, composer
Fantasia on a Theme of Dowland for Violin and Piano, Op. 23
Kenneth Sillito, violin, Hamish Milne, piano

Bernard Stevens, composer
Improvisation for Solo Violin, OP. 48a
Kenneth Sillito, violin

"...clarity of form combined with absolutely lush melodies and harmonies,...It's like a superbly cooked meal whose presentation is crisply unfussy, yet sometimes surprising, a delight for both mind and heart." (
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