Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Rule Britannia

It's British Music week here at Music for Several Instruments. I'm listening to three new Chandos discs: a 2-CD re-issue of British Cello Concertos with Raphael Wallfisch, volume 2 in the Overtures from the British Isles series from Rumon Gamba and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and another volume 2, in Tasmin Little & Piers Lane's British Violin Sonatas series. Before we get started, then, just a reminder of what went before, or as they say on TV,

Previously, on British Music from Chandos....

The first disc in the Tasmin Little/Piers Lane series, released in June of 2013, is marvellous, and this model bodes well for the new disc, due to be released in June 2016. The full-blown pastoral yumminess of Howard Ferguson's Violin Sonata is presented to its best advantage, without sentimental flourishes or ironic winks. Benjamin Britten flexes his muscles in his early Suite for Violin and Piano; grown-up music from a 21-year-old. This is definitely a Continental side-trip for Little and Lane - it was chosen for a Barcelona Contemporary Music festival by Anton Webern and Ernest Ansermet - and they provide the requisite sophistication here. The William Walton pieces are a bit in both camps, looking back with nostalgia and ahead with spikes out, but again the shift in tone is handled very well, with sensitivity to this more introverted, cerebral music.

The first of the Rumon Gamba Overtures discs, from January 2014, was also a real success, and with some quite obscure music:

This disc got rave reviews from Britain - I'm not sure it was heard much anywhere else.  These are well-crafted late Victorian overtures, and together they conjure a time when classical music, of the lighter variety, to be sure, was truly popular. We're all off to the concert!

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