Arioso for Cello and Piano, Op.43
Algernon Ashton (1859-1937) was born in the English city of Durham. At the age of three, shortly after his fatherís death, his mother moved the family to Leipzig where her daughter was studying at the Conservatory. Ashton grew up in Germany, as a boy studying piano with Iwan Knorr and then at the Leipzig Conservatory with Carl Reinecke, while studying composition with Salomon Jadassohn. He continued his studies in Frankfurt with Joachim Raff. In 1881, he returned to England where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1885, he was appointed Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music, while at the same time pursuing a concert career both in England and abroad. Among his students were William Hurlstone and William Alwyn. Ashton was a prolific composer, writing in most genres. He was particularly attracted to chamber music and left many chamber works. His style, as one might expect from his German musical education was influenced by several of the important German Romantic era composers.
The Arioso for Cello and Piano dates from 1889 and dedicated to the cellist Edmund van der Straeten has a rather English flavor to it. In one short movement, there is an openness to the melodic writing. Ashton does not try to create a an aria, strictly speaking, but aims for aria-like writing which is more flexible and allows him greater freedom of expression.
The relatively short, approximately 7 1/2 minute, work makes a fine recital choice where a shorter work is required. Written very well for the cello, it requires musicality and not technical fireworks for its effect.