This is one of the
fabled "new" Lyritas – which
means that, despite not sporting the
details on the disc, it was recorded
back in 1994 and is only now seeing
the light of commercial day. It’s devoted
to two concertos by the short-lived
English composer William Busch and the
coupling has been avidly awaited by
enthusiasts who knew of its existence
but despaired of ever hearing the works.
Despair no more.
The Cello Concerto
was completed in 1941 and was written
for that fine player Florence Hooton.
It’s a ruminative, reflective work that
opens with a winding, coiling lyricism
that summons up Finzian vistas. Despite
that allegiance one wouldn’t want to
push the association too far; it’s not
a work for example that foreshadows
Finzi’s own later Cello Concerto, which
is altogether a bigger work. Nevertheless
Busch summons up fine contrastive sections
in a strongly argued first movement.
The central movement has its share of
folkloric influence. In his typically
amusing and assured programme notes
John Amis is right to point once again
to Finzi as a satellite influence on
the writing, though in this performance
there’s a slightly cosmopolitan air
to the writing as well that ensures
that nothing is mired in the generic.
The writing is generous and effective.
And the finale is ebullient, vivacious,
with strong percussion, skirling strings
and demanding writing for the soloist.
The Piano Concerto,
written a few years beforehand, is a
real contrast in styles. It was premiered
by the composer with Boult and the BBC
Symphony. Essentially neo-classical
it has some fulsome touches, fine exchanges
between soloist and winds for example
– the latter sound just a touch recessed
in the balance here. There’s a strong
sense of torrent in the middle section
– dissonant and fully aware of, say,
Prokofiev - before a return to a modified
kind of neo-classicism at the end. The
slow movement is reflective though sporting
some vigorous flourishing gestures –
nothing static about it. The finale
is a variational. It’s tightly and highly
impressively argued, lean, adamantine,
the most cerebral (but not academic)
of any music on the disc. It shows the
full range of his technical and expressive
command – it’s not necessarily immediately
likeable but it is impressive.
Hearing their performances
one wouldn’t want to hear any other
than Lane and Wallfisch to expound these
works on disc. Their passagework is
athletic and on the button – Lane’s
in the finale of the Piano Concerto
and Wallfisch’s in the brushstroke exchanges
with orchestral principals. They both
play with amplitude, sensitivity, fine
tonal reserves and style. Handley conducts
the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with
his usual architectural acumen.
Well worth the wait.
See also review
by Bob Briggs
See also articles
by Julia Cornaby Busch, the composer’s
daughter and by Sinclair Logan