The pieces here were all at one time to have formed part of the same set, but in the end the Cradle Song
remained unpublished. All four are ‘character’ pieces written in 1917/18. Of the Three Pieces
, Op 28, ‘Pastorale’ is true to its title, being in compound time with a lilting rhythm which is the hallmark of such pieces. It is dedicated, like the first sonata, to Sybil Eaton, a champion of modern British music of the day. ‘Chosen Tune’ is dedicated to the singer Dorothy Dawe whom Howells married in 1920. ‘Chosen’ (or ‘Churchdown’) is the name of a hill just outside Gloucester which commands wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. Howells used to go walking there with Ivor Gurney, and later with Dorothy, as often as possible. His Piano Quartet is dedicated ‘to the hill at Chosen and Ivor Gurney who knows it’. This lovely simple tune exists both as a piano piece and in this version for violin and piano.
‘Luchinushka’ is subtitled ‘A Lament’ and is based on a Russian folk tune. There was a great vogue for things Russian at the time, and Howells’s work Procession, which exists in both piano and orchestral versions, was born out of reading Dostoevsky. The accompaniment to this short piece makes much play on major and minor intervals.
from notes by Paul Spicer © 1993