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Alan BUSH (1900-1995)
Violin Concerto (1948) [28.54]
Six Short Pieces(1983) [8.57] Dialectic (1929) [14.12]
Manoug Parikian (violin)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Norman Del Mar (concerto)
Alan Bush (piano) (pieces)
Medici String Quartet (Dialectic)
rec. BBC Maida Vale, Studio 1, 22 November 1983 (concerto); The Art Workers
Guild, Queens Square, Holborn, London, 11 May 1984 (pieces)
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, 17 July 1984 (Dialectic) CLAUDIO CB5151-2 [52.05]
is not a new release – in fact it’s a re-release of a Hyperion
LP – and it’s been reviewed on this site (see below). However,
the chance to acquaint myself with the CD transfer has proved
not least because it couples the Violin Concerto with one
of the greatest works for quartet written by a British composer, Dialectic, and
adds some brief piano pieces played by the composer.
Violin Concerto of 1948 appeared during a decade that had
produced a fair number of outstanding British works in the
medium. The Bush is similarly fine. It opens with a cadential
passage for the soloist, here the excellent Manoug Parikian,
and answering Shostakovich-like passages from the orchestral
pizzicati. Some brusquer writing leads onto lyrical plains – this
is a really lyrical and at heart affectionate work – full
of warmth and no trace of Bartók, who might have been assumed
to be an influence. There is a feel of constant incident
but no false heroics or bogus pyrotechnics. In a delightful
symmetry reflective of the opening movement, the solo violin’s
lead in the central Andante is met by legato lines from the
orchestral strings. The writing is freely rhapsodic and expressive
and is marvellously apposite, discreet and never draws unnecessary
attention to itself. The finale is light-hearted with a sense
of the Puckish about it; winds are warm, the soloist is athletic
but not arid and never showy – and at a few points Bush seems
almost to be stretching out his compositional pen to the
lyric melancholy of popular song. In fact I think he is.
Parikian and Del Mar deal with all these matters superbly.
Dialectic was written in the time of the primacy of the Cobbett Phantasy Quartet.
It’s therefore in one movement and moves with absolute fluid
assurance throughout its fourteen-minute length. Its moods
are various and changeable, its archaisms and feints toward
modal, Tallis Fantasia sonorities highly effective.
The demands of in alt playing and crystalline trills
are never to be taken for granted. The turbulence and reflective
power of such a work never palls. The Medici sound inspired
here. The Aeolian String Quartet recorded this on
a pair of 78s for Decca – and you can never have too many
recordings of it.
Finally there is the pleasure of hearing Bush playing his
own piano pieces – short and enjoyable morceaux. They are
variously Bachian, folkloric and witty.
The documentation consists of Peter Lamb’s Hyperion’s essay
with a biographical note from Rachel O’Higgins. The music
and performances are first class in every way.
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