London Chamber Orchestra take on Ruth Gipps with Winds of Change

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During the long years when women composers were largely ignored the name of Ruth Gipps was never entirely absent. As an oboist, conductor and founder of two orchestras, she had a varied career that kept her in the public eye even if her music was only rarely getting performances.

That neglect stemmed not only from discrimination, but also her preference to stay clear of the avant-garde styles favoured by the postwar establishment. Gipps’s music is clear-headed, tuneful, appealing, often in the pastoral style of her teacher, Vaughan Williams.

This new disc throws extra light on her output. It has been a labour of love on the part of young horn player Ben Goldscheider, who was attracted by the large variety of music Gipps composed that included a part for horn, probably inspired by her son, a prolific horn player.

The selection ranges from the simple Taradiddle for Two Horns, based on a nursery rhyme, to the enjoyably complex sonorities of Seascape for double wind quintet. A pair of later works from the 1980s are especially rewarding — an uplifting, well-crafted Wind Octet and the gentler Wind Sinfonietta, the most obviously English of the pieces here.

The standard of the rest is up and down, but Goldscheider is a fine champion of the solo horn works, which include a playful Sonatina for Horn and Piano, and her final work, a Sonata for Alto Trombone (or Horn) and Piano. A couple of brief pieces with voices do not add much. Members of the London Chamber Orchestra offer first-class support.

★★★☆☆

Ruth Gipps: Winds of Change’ is released by Three Worlds Records

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