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Frank Lee SPRAGUE (b. 1958)
Concerto in E flat major for Violin with Orchestra (2005?)
(Tempo de Walse, Adagio, Allegro Assai)
synthesised solo and orchestral (?)
Wichita Falls Records Studios, North Hollywood, California, Feb 2006

I should have been suspicious when, having opened the box, I found no background notes on the composer or the piece and no details of performer or orchestra or conductor. On the evidence of my ears both the solo part and the orchestra are synthesised. Despite advances in audio science the sound still has that harmonium-Hammond zing. I have no abiding prejudices against the process (witness my reviews of various Bortkiewicz discs) but I just wish Mr Sprague and his company had declared this. After all they are quite open about the CD playing for only just over half an hour.

I have done a little research and find that Frank Lee Sprague is an American composer born in Wichita Falls, Texas on 8 January 1958. He is said to have more than one thousand works to his credit. His website notes refer to performances in Los Angeles by Ernest Ehrheardt, Karen Elaine, Robert Korda and Brian Leonard. They also say that he has spent his life studying, writing, and performing music his main instrument being the guitar. This is his newest recording.

The Concerto for Violin with Orchestra can lay no claims to originality. Provided you are ready to accept the sound of a synthesised solo and orchestra then you will find a work whose gracious and I think rather hackneyed manners ape the violin concertos of Beethoven and Mozart. This is sometimes moderated by the sort of music you find in the more pallid pages of Sibelius’s theatre music. Despite the exalted claims made for this music by Mr Sprague’s publicists this is never stronger than pleasant and often sounds like a Beethoven facsimile but without Beethoven’s unruly originality and structured energy.

If you would like to hear more Wichita Fall Records have produced two other Sprague discs: WFR336 Symphonic Poem and WFR342 Piano Quartet.

Rob Barnett



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