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Guirne CREITH (1907-1996)
Violin Concerto in G minor (1932-34) [25:10]
Thomas PITFIELD (1903-1999)
Concerto Lirico for violin and full orchestra (1958) [18:57]
Richard ARNELL (b.1917)
Violin Concerto in One Movement op. 9 (1940) [19:15]
Lorraine McAslan (violin)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 26-28 August 2008. DDD
world premiere recordings
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7221 [63:42] 
Experience Classicsonline

Guirne Creith
, rather like Roger Sacheverell Coke, Walter Gaze Cooper  and Sam Hartley Braithwaite, remains a mystery figure. Dutton dispel some of the mist and add to the fascination with this recording of her Violin Concerto. It's a very attractive work in the same part of the firmament as the violin concertos by Bax, Elgar and Coleridge Taylor - if this doesn't sound like too strange a confection. It's a serious concerto with a stirring dramatic mien. It might be seen as the Bax concerto Bax might have written had the inspiration caught him in the middle of his Nordic period rather than when he was left only with sputtering recollections of the Ballets Russes, Richard Strauss and the lighter aspects of his music. The Creith is not of the English pastoral school. It is a full-blooded romantic work with great ideas in the solo line and in the orchestra. The slow movement flowers with coaxed tenderness. It was dedicated to Albert Sammons who premiered it with the BBC and Constant Lambert on 19 May 1936. There is also a violin sonata which really should be included in one of Dutton Epoch's sonata anthologies. I hope also that yet more of her orchestral work will be discovered and recorded as convincingly as this.

Many enthusiasts will already know of Thomas Pitfield but this is the first time we have heard his Concerto Lirico from 1958 written against a contemporary tidal surge of dissonance by a  composer who held true to his style. That style is melodic, carefree, partaking a little of Rubbra's Collana dance movements. Its central movement makes passing contact with Warlock's Frostbound Wood. The work was premiered by Peter Mountain - a name well remembered by those who knew the broadcasts and concerts of the BBC Training Orchestra (long disbanded). Pitfield was a craftsman in many fields including typography, calligraphy, line drawings, woodcuts; not just music. This is a breathtakingly beautiful concerto in the same singing company as the Respighi, the Finzi Introit, the Moeran and the Ivanovs. The distressing story of the premiere with an unsympathetic conductor I will leave to John Turner in his liner notes - suffice to say that this recording is only possible due to the discovery of a microfilm of the full score found in the composer's garage after his death. The production of a practical performing entity is down to Peter Mountain's editorial work – Mr Mountain being the only violinist who knew the work from the inside.

Richard Arnell's single movement Violin Concerto is from 1949. It's another flamboyantly romantic piece - rather akin to Rawsthorne yet without the tart astringency. It was written during Arnell’s time in New York and premiered in Carnegie Hall in 1946.

Hearing works like these at last recorded with such superb success makes me hope before too long to be hearing Robin Milford's Violin Concerto and his Hardy-inspired The Darkling Thrush also for violin and orchestra as well as the Goossens’ Phantasy Violin Concerto.

Lorraine McAslan triumphs again in these unknown violin concertos. We must be grateful for her fine judgement in learning these works and in projecting them with such overwhelming confidence. She treats them as they deserve - as if they belonged in company with the conventional greats of the repertoire.

Rob Barnett


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