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Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Cello Concerto (1937) [27:08]
Symphony No. 1 in G major (1899) [30:44]
Paul Watkins (cello)
BBC Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins
rec. Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 17-18 October 2007. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10452 [58:04]
Experience Classicsonline

This is the fourth and final volume in the Chandos-Scott series each instalment of which has paired a symphony and a concerto.

This one reveals a fledgling green symphony by a young, and accomplished yet impressionable Scott. The Symphony No. 1 is not a harmonically complex work unlike the symphonies 3 and 4 and its mate on this disc. Scott at twenty plays a magnificently light hand and the music flows like cheering mercurial amber. The first movement has a flowing grace which recalls the feather hand of Binge’s much later Elizabethan Serenade and mixes in the jauntiness of Grainger. The Andante is almost Delian, warmly sighing and winsome. The Allegretto is gently playful. The bipartite finale starts with a theme and ten variations and is followed by a finale-proper. The Tema con variazioni smacks of Vaughan Williams and the neo-classical aspect of Moeran - those coarsely blown fanfares and confiding rhythmic ostinatos. Add to the mix a touch of Rimskian-Moussorgskian splendour. The same influence can be felt in the Bantock Russian Suite. I kept expecting to pick up the religious and symbolist influence of the poet Stefan George with whom the symphony is associated but it is not that kind of work. It was, at the time, perhaps the best of Scott and the composer dedicated his then best to the object of his admiration.

The Cello Concerto is a mature sombre work given eloquent expression by Paul Watkins. From almost forty years later than the First Symphony it is confident and totally accomplished. It seems likely that it was written for Beatrice Harrison to match the symmetry of the as yet unrecorded Double Concerto he had written for the Harrison sisters. His Violin Concerto (recorded earlier in the series) was a work championed by May Harrison. The Cello Concerto is in three movements in which a rich tapestry of swooping long passionate-lined melodies arc their way through a warmly musing Delian canvas. The orchestration is lavish but sensitively used with piano included. The work erupts in eloquent and completely characteristic clouds as at 3:48, 6:31 and 12:30 in the long first movement. There is a short meditative intermezzo pastorale which again makes tense play of the orchestral piano and woodwind. This leads into a sanguine pattering Rondo giocoso with pensive, melancholic Delian asides ending in some positively Moeran-like celebratory flourishes. It has something of the reflective and undemonstrative understatement of the Moeran and Bax cello concertos. Watkins, who I last heard in concert in Brighton in the Schumann concerto, manages magnificently in this domain of the restless, the soulful and the swirling. His adroitly hooded tone is spot-on for Scott. 

There is an earlier Cello Concerto from 1902. Perhaps we will hear it one day.

The liner notes are by Lewis Foreman. They are typically informative - full of facts, nexus and insight. 

Two long unheard Scott works - one wonderfully light of heart and celebrating a life-long admiration; the other fully mature in his richest and most intriguing vein.

Rob Barnett

Cyril Scott on Chandos:

Symphony No. 2/Violin Concerto CHAN10407
Symphony No. 3/Piano Concerto 2 CHAN10211
Symphony No. 4/Piano Concerto 1 CHAN10376



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