Thanks to the advocacy of Chris Latham, the Australian World War One composer FS Kelly has been resurrected via an ongoing series of recordings undertaken by ABC Classic and Latham’s own ensemble. Now, Latham has recovered a pair of works for piano and the young British pianist Alex Wilson has taken on the task of introducing us to yet another string to Kelly’s bow.
Like much of his recorded output thus far, Kelly’s idiom fits neatly in with the prevalent idiom of the early 20th-century English stylists and its generation of doomed youth (composers like Butterworth, Orr and others). Of course, the British pull is strong, but so is the late 19th-century Germanic school of pianism where Kelly studied alongside fellow Australian, Percy Grainger.
These two series of short works reflect not only the lyricism of the likes of Vaughan Williams and Elgar but also Chopin, Scriabin and, at its more passion driven, Brahms and Schumann. These attractive pieces suggest someone who, if he had not been slain at the Battle of the Somme, would have gone on to do greater things. Mind you, Kelly was a man of many talents, a champion rower to boot and a friend and contemporary of the admirable Rupert Brooke to boot.
It amazes how this composer and his music have had to wait until the age of the computer and crowd funding to seek out a sympathetic ear. Thanks be to Christopher Latham and Alex Wilson!
Composer: FS Kelly
Works: 24 Monographs, Op. 11, 12 Studies, Op. 9
Performer: Alex Wilson p
Label: Toccata Classics TOCC0524