malcolm lipkin, composer

Clifford's Tower for Wind Quintet and String Trio

The Gramophone:

However, by far the most arresting of the new Hyperion issues is devoted to the music of Malcolm Lipkin, which couples his String Trio (1963-4) on one side with two other pieces, Clifford's Tower (1977) and the Pastorale for horn and string quintet. As a young man Lipkin received encouragement from such figures as Boris Blacher and Georges Enescu before going on to study in the 1950s with Mátyás Seiber. By far the most powerful work here is Clifford's Tower, a bleak and uncompromising score which takes its inspiration from William of Newbury's account of an incident in twelfth-century York. The Jewish population of the town, fleeing from an anti-semitic mob, was brutally massacred in Clifford's Tower where they had taken refuge and from which there was no escape. Scored for wind quintet and string trio, it is a powerfully conceived, moving and highly imaginative score... I find it gripping, with a lot to say, and far from empty; on the contrary, its sonorities and substance resonate in the mind. The earlier String Trio on the first side is beautifully crafted with something unusual in contemporary music: a real sense of movement with more of Sir Lennox Berkeley than Bartók to it.The Pastorale for horn and string quintet is an evocative and atmospheric score, beautifully played by the Nash Ensemble and expertly recorded. This is the first record of Lipkin's music to come on to the market and his long neglect is difficult to understand. His is a real voice and I regret not having heard more of his music before this.

Hi-Fi News and Record Review:

The contemplation of events of the past can often add poignancy and balance to our understanding of similar events in the modern world. Malcolm Lipkin's use of William of Newbury's account of the horrific massacre of Jews in 12th Century York, at Clifford's Tower, as the background to his 1977 piece for mixed chamber ensemble, is no mere dwelling on the past but a clear-sighted and moving comment on the present. Its expert performance here effectively highlights the contrasts inherent in the music and subtly draws out its deeply felt sentiment. It is followed rather closely by the short Pastorale of 1963 - in its 1979 arrangement for horn and string quintet. However, the similarity of mood between the last bars of Clifford's Tower and the Pastorale make the latter a fitting rider to the longer piece, and here again the performance is first-rate.

The String Trio of 1964 is, superficially, a work in a very different style, but the direction that Lipkin's music was to take over the following fifteen years is clearly presaged in it, from the tenor of its harmonic language to the concerns of its formal structure. The exemplary performance by members of the Nash Ensemble is complemented, as in the other works, by a lovely recorded sound in which the individual instruments have a tangible sense of position and tonal verisimilitude, and a well-proportioned degree of balance and integration. In all, the Finzi Trust's sponsorship of this disc must be considered enlightened and well-placed.