Frederick Septimus Kelly: Chamber Music

The First World War took the lives of about 20 million men. Among them were several composers. These were young men, caught up in the idea of gloriously fighting for King (or Kaiser) and Country. George Butterworth, Rudi Stephan, and Frederick Septimus Kelly died before fulfilling their potential.

This release features three chamber works by Frederick Septimus Kelly. This Australian was not only a talented composer but a fine athlete. As part of the British sculling team, he won a gold medal in the 1908 Olympic Games.

Kelly composed his Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor in response to his father’s death. It’s an introspective and moving work. To my ears, it sounded like a bittersweet contemplation of a life.

Violinist Laurence Jackson leans into the sonata. His warm tone and richly expressive playing convey the intent of the work.

Kelly composed the Serenade for Flute in 1911, on a voyage back to Australia. The original version is for flute, horn, and orchestra. This one is for flute and piano. This is a much lighter work and seems fun to play. At least, that’s the impression flutist Michael Waye’s performance conveys.

The 1905 piano trio hints at what Kelly might have achieved had he survived the war. It’s a big work, with each instrument showcased in turn. The expansive phrases have a lush, Romantic sound. But at the same time, I could hear Kelly pushing the boundaries. The West Australian Piano Trio gives this work a great performance.

The liner notes hint that Toccata Classics may release at least a second volume of Kelly’s music. I hope they do.

Frederick Septimus Kelly: Chamber Music
Serenade for Flute and Piano; Violin Sonata No. 1; Piano Trio
Michael Waye, flute; Laurence Jackson, violin; Davidk Wickham piano
The West Australian Piano Trio
Toccata Classics TOCC0702

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