Pope - Heaven-Haven A Song Recital
Armed with only a box of scores, it has taken two years to trace the late composer Peter Pope and his family. His life and works had been erased from the public eye because of his critical years spent as a member of the religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, later known as the Raven-Taylor Brethren.
Peter Pope was born in 1917 and had studied at the Royal College of Music, with John Ireland. He won a travelling scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, but his studies were cut short by the German invasion of Paris. Pope narrowly escaped death, by fleeing France on a bicycle through Northern Spain. After service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Pope's piano quartet received a rave review in The Times and Augeners offered to publish anything he wrote, but instead he met and married Noreen. Noreen was s a member of the Exclusive Brethren (more extreme than the Plymouth brethren) who announced that Christmas and music were to be 'cancelled.' Peter didn't write another note until the sect was disbanded in 1971.
Perhaps Pope's withdrawal from the world also had the effect of preserving the musical language in which he was by then so utterly fluent, with the songs on this disc exclusively tonal and overwhelmingly melodic, shot through with echoes of Ireland and Finzi as much as Fauré and Ravel. Mezzo-soprano Susan Legg specializes in art song past and present and has, with pianist Ann Martin-Davis, commissioned song-cycles from Graham Fitkin, Howard Skempton, and Gabriel Jackson. They lavish on Pope's songs a measure of affection commensurate with their considerable technical and musical abilities and are to be appaluded fro bringing such wonderful music to a wider audience. Robert Levett, International Record Review