Originally published on January 27
Mike Purton has come up with a winner for his MPR label: three works by Englishman Percy Hilder Miles (1878-1922) that deserve to be better known. Superbly recorded by Tony Faulkner (Henry Wood Hall, London, during last year), the members of Ensemble Kopernikus (Kasia Zimińska, violin; Alice Purton, cello; and Ian Tindale, piano) give this melodic and structured music devoted readings. The three-movement “Sonata in C for Pianoforte and Violoncello” (1916) is full of bonhomie, quietly passionate, somewhat Brahmsian in places, languidly French in others, always expressive and communicative, with Alice Purton relishing the music’s singing line, not least during the warm-hearted Adagio, which embraces elements of a sparkling Scherzo. The Finale is enjoyably folksy.
From earlier, respectively 1894 and 1901, are “Sonata for Pianoforte and Violin No.2 in G” and “Trio for Pianoforte, Violin and Cello in B minor”, the former charming, eloquent and heart-easing – three salon pieces, generously poetic, forming a Sonata. The Trio is a bigger, more demonstrative opus, ambitious in scope and invention, each of its movements suggesting a composer with much to say through music, and with the confidence to do it, whether powerfully in the first movement, “solemnly” (the tempo marking) in the slow one, “Fast” in the edgy third, and searchingly and energetically in the Finale, resolving calmly and satisfied; well-worth discovering.
The booklet includes informative essays on the composer and these works, which may not be life-changing but are very much of interest and presented stylishly. I look forward to the next Volume: Percy Hilder Miles may prove to be the British equivalent of Amy Beach. This first release, MPR111, is released on February the Fourth.
Percy Hilder Miles has two footnotes in the history of the viola. It was his invitation to Lional Tertis, to play viola in his quartet, that started Tertis on his life’s path. Later, Hilder Miles made a pass at one of his RAM students, leading her father to remove her and transfer her to the RCM, where she flourished under Stanford’s compositonal guidance. That was Rebecca Clarke…
He proposed, so it was much more than a ‘pass.’