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Summer: A Collection of Seasonal Classics
Antonio VIVALDI (1676-1741)
from The Four Seasons, Op.8
Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999) Concerto de Estio
Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Summer Day, Op. 65
Christopher GUNNING
Summer Afternoon
from Yorkshire Glory
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
A Song of Summer
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Summertime
Moscow Virtuosi/Vladimir Spivakov (violin); Michael Guttman (violin), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Jose Serebrier; Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Jose Serebrier; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley; Philharmonia Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes; Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. 1977-2002. ADD

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Like the companion disc in the series (Spring), this is a slightly haphazard selection of works of varied recording dates and quality, some very well known and others rather the opposite. The range here is smaller and perhaps of more even quality. Resonance have some interesting material here, but some of it would be better collected and offered by other categorisation than this seasonal grouping.

The disc opens with the appropriate Vivaldi season, again played by the excellent Moscow Virtuosi.  This is probably the most enjoyable selection on the disc, and my view is that Resonance would do well to make available the complete ‘Four Seasons’ by these performers on one disc.

The Rodrigo Concerto is a work deserving of better recognition than it currently enjoys. However, its placement in this collection does it no favours, as it would be preferable to have a greater contrast in tone and pace after the Vivaldi, which is naturally better known. It is not helped either by coming after the Moscow Virtuosi who are a hard act to follow, although its performance is perfectly competent. I would prefer to hear it as part of a collection of Rodrigo concertos, which would set it in a better context.

The Prokofiev is a simple and pleasant work, designed to be suitable as a performance piece for children’s musical ensembles. However it has its own internal programme, with the result that it creates a situation of a thematic programme within another thematic programme.

The extract from Gunning’s ‘Morning Glory’ represents a likeable work relatively little known and well played here. It conjures the image of a brass band playing in the bandstand of a public park on a warm summer afternoon. The sound world is Elgarian, and it is more ‘English’ than any other item on the disc. Again, its effect is to interest me in hearing a performance of the complete work, which again one imagines Resonance are in a position to release and promote. If it serves as a sampler for this, it would be effective in its purpose. 

Again a lovely work by Delius, this time 'Summer Night on the River', is featured as a component of the anthology. The performance here is pleasant but might not be my first choice. It is taken from another disc on the same label, a collection of this composer’s short works, which is the subject of another review and therefore I will not discuss it at length.

The disc closes with Gershwin’s Summertime, taken here at a very slow pace. It is the only vocal work on the disc. Clearly the aim is to ‘go out with a flourish’, but this does not quite work and it remains incongruous and isolated rather than being a triumphant culmination of any logical development.

There is undoubtedly interesting material here, but it is not presented in a way which shows it to advantage. The disc lacks programme or development other than drawing together tracks around its stated theme. Quality is variable and inconsistent. Most of my general comments about the companion disc are applicable here also. It lacks ready appeal and adequate recording quality for the novice listener or the gift market. Serious music fans are likely to prefer the more unusual tracks and performers presented in a more relevant context.

Julie Williams


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