One of the finest partnerships in the history of recorded music, that between
Sir John Barbirolli and his wife Evelyn Rothwell had been almost forgotten
until a splendid issue on Dutton featuring a number of wonderful concertos
arranged by these two sensitive artists. This second volume is as much a
tribute to Sir John than to Evelyn Rothwell for it even includes a number
of sonatas where Mrs Barbirolli is accompanied by such distinguished artists
as Valda Aveling and Dennis Nesbit, pioneers of harpsichord and viola da
The Haydn Concerto is conspicuously 'big-band' but the grand manner of
Barbirolli's conducting beautifully matches Rothwell's mercurially lilting
tone especially in the expansive Allegro spiritoso. The 1957 PYE recording
is miraculously clear, in the Andante one is enchanted by phrasing, breathing
and all sorts of clicks from the oboist, surely not intrusive but participative.
The Marcello Concerto is from the last year of intensive recordings for the
conductor. This pays dividends as the beautiful melodies are almost wrung
out with expressive conducting of the highest order. I was particularly charmed
by the serene Adagio, majestic music, sublime even, in these outstanding
With the Corelli, Barbirolli switched orchestras and the wholesome rounded
sound of the New Philharmonia may sound a bit old fashioned but there is
much to enjoy nonetheless. The real bonuses here are the solo Rothwell items,
which show her status as one of the world's finest oboeists in those days.
CPE Bach's Sonata in G is accompanied with great vigour by Valda Aveling
and Dennis Nesbitt whilst the arrangements of Loillet's Sonata in C and Handel's
'Air and Rondo are wonderfully accompanied by Wilfred Parry. It is indeed
good to have these performances back on disc.
Aveling and Nesbitt return for Telemann's Sonata in E and Head's Siciliana,
both fine examples of Rothwell's supremely confident art. As usual with Dutton,
Lyndon Jenkin's supremely eloquent notes adorn this splendid issue, almost
the 'icing on the cake', at least to a young enthusiast like me. I'm sure
that fans of this partnership will not even hesitate whilst newcomers to
this magical music should take a dip and get hooked - for life!