Guirne Creith, rather like Roger Sacheverell Coke, Walter
Gaze Cooper and Sam Hartley Braithwaite, remains a mystery figure.
Dutton dispel some of the mist and add to the fascination with
this recording of her Violin Concerto. It's a very attractive
work in the same part of the firmament as the violin concertos
by Bax, Elgar and Coleridge Taylor - if this doesn't sound like
too strange a confection. It's a serious concerto with a stirring
dramatic mien. It might be seen as the Bax concerto Bax might
have written had the inspiration caught him in the middle of his
Nordic period rather than when he was left only with sputtering
recollections of the Ballets Russes, Richard Strauss and the lighter
aspects of his music. The Creith is not of the English pastoral
school. It is a full-blooded romantic work with great ideas in
the solo line and in the orchestra. The slow movement flowers
with coaxed tenderness. It was dedicated to Albert Sammons who
premiered it with the BBC and Constant Lambert on 19 May 1936.
There is also a violin sonata which really should be included
in one of Dutton Epoch's sonata anthologies. I hope also that
yet more of her orchestral work will be discovered and recorded
as convincingly as this.
will already know of Thomas Pitfield but this is the
first time we have heard his Concerto Lirico from 1958
written against a contemporary tidal surge of dissonance by
a composer who held true to his style. That style is melodic,
carefree, partaking a little of Rubbra's Collana dance
movements. Its central movement makes passing contact with Warlock's
Frostbound Wood. The work was premiered by Peter Mountain
- a name well remembered by those who knew the broadcasts and
concerts of the BBC Training Orchestra (long disbanded).
Pitfield was a craftsman in many fields including typography,
calligraphy, line drawings, woodcuts; not just music. This is
a breathtakingly beautiful concerto in the same singing company
as the Respighi, the Finzi Introit, the Moeran and the
Ivanovs. The distressing story of the premiere with an unsympathetic
conductor I will leave to John Turner in his liner notes - suffice
to say that this recording is only possible due to the discovery
of a microfilm of the full score found in the composer's garage
after his death. The production of a practical performing entity
is down to Peter Mountain's editorial work – Mr Mountain being
the only violinist who knew the work from the inside.
single movement Violin Concerto is from 1949. It's another flamboyantly
romantic piece - rather akin to Rawsthorne yet without the tart
astringency. It was written during Arnell’s time in New York
and premiered in Carnegie Hall in 1946.
Hearing works like
these at last recorded with such superb success makes me hope
before too long to be hearing Robin Milford's Violin Concerto
and his Hardy-inspired The Darkling Thrush also for violin
and orchestra as well as the Goossens’ Phantasy Violin Concerto.
triumphs again in these unknown violin concertos. We must be
grateful for her fine judgement in learning these works and
in projecting them with such overwhelming confidence. She treats
them as they deserve - as if they belonged in company with the
conventional greats of the repertoire.