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Robin ORR (1909-2006)
Robin Orr - Centenary Tribute  
Sonatina for Violin and Piano (1941) [8:46]
Max Rostal (violin); Franz Osborn (piano)
Sonata for Viola and Piano (1947) [17:56]
James Durrant (viola); Lawrence Glover (piano)
Serenade for String Trio (1948, rev. 1989) [15:05]
Leonard Friedman (violin); Duncan Johnson (viola); Joanna Borrett (cello)
Duo for Violin and Cello in one movement (1953, rev. 1965) [12:11] 
Edwin Paling (violin); Elisabeth McDonald (cello)  
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord (1956) [16:24]
Granville Jones (violin); Thurston Dart (harpsichord)
rec. 1948 Decca 78 (Sonatina); Glasgow, 1977 b/c 22 June 1978 (Viola Sonata); Cambridge University West Road Concert Hall, 9 November 1989 (Serenade); Bute Hall, Glasgow, December 1983 b/c 1984 (Duo); BBC, 23 July 1959. ADD
GUILD GHCD2350 [72:28]

 

Experience Classicsonline


Robin Orr, Scottish-born but naturalised Swiss, would have been one hundred years old this year but for his death in 2006. He wrote three operas and three symphonies amongst much else. This collection of archive recordings marks the centenary in style.

The 1941 Sonatina is from the only ‘commercial’ recording featured here.  It has been transferred from a Decca 78 from 1948 in that company’s splendidly enlightened Promotion for New Music series. It's a rapturously dancing piece with the lambent lyrical air of Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. A short yet impassioned Adagio Appassionato steps forward in tortured harmonic language but soon sings freely through the violin. It may sing but this song is laden with a cargo of tears. Rostal's violin tone is supple and slender even when emotional. His sound-world was carried forward into new generations with Yfrah Neaman whose Lyrita recording of the two Ireland Violin Sonatas is now easily accessible (see review).

Six years after the Violin Sonatina came the multi-faceted Viola Sonatam, another work where the composer delves deep into an emotional shadow-land. With Orr it seems there is always a passionate foundation and often that passion is linked to confidences and sorrow as we can unmistakably hear in the Elegy movement.  The flickering bells of the Scherzetto link to the joyous Tippett-like ecstasy of the Violin Sonatina first movement. Orr has no time for prolixity and the Serenade for String Trio serves to emphasise this point. There is an emotionally veiled and ambivalently shaded first movement, a gravely concentrated Andante and a dense and convoluted Adagio moving into terpsichorean Presto. The one movement Duo is from 1953 and revised in 1965. It is not as harmonically severe as the Trio. A perfect little work full of emotional reward it is well able to keep company with the Kodaly Duo for the same instruments. It benefits from the composer's gift for finding the just length for the expression of his musical conceits and then developing or stopping the statement before the idea lies exhausted. It's a gift. This work stand high in this company. The 1956 Sonata is for violin and klavier - either harpsichord, as here, or piano. The Allegro rather smacks of Rawsthorne with occasional dancing infusions from his piano teacher Arthur Benjamin. The work has a serious mien but there is the occasional smile often contributed in the harpsichord line here articulated by Thurston Dart. The concentrated arpeggiation of the keyboard in the Largo focuses the lamentation of the violin line without becoming mechanistic. There is something of the minimalism of Sibelius's The Bard about those harpsichord figurations. The dancing Allegro vivace manages to resist the stultifying hand of its fugal packaging through a Rubbra-like earnestness.

This is the second Orr record from Guild. The first - of orchestral works - is GMCD7196: Italian Overture (1952); From the Book of Philip Sparrow (1969); Rhapsody for String Orchestra (1958); Journeys and Places (1971)* Pamela Helen Stephen* (mezzo); Northern Sinfonia/Howard Griffiths. This is not to forget the EMI Classics CD of the Symphony in one movement.

Rob Barnett


 

 
 


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