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| English Classical Violin Concertos
James BROOKS (1760-1809)
Violin Concerto No 1 in D major [15:28]
Thomas LINLEY JNR (1756-1778)
Violin Concerto in F major [16:04]
Thomas SHAW (c.1755-l830)
Violin Concerto in G major [14:09]
Samuel WESLEY (1766-1837)
Violin Concerto No 2 in D major [18:03]
The Parley of Instruments/Peter Holman (from the fortepiano)
rec. St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, London, 8-10 January
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55260 [64:05]
This disc of English classical violin
concertos from Helios presents concertos by four different
composers, all written at the mid-end of the eighteenth
century. The first three composers featured were all from
Bath and most likely wrote these works for the numerous
concerts that took place in that thriving and cultured
James Brooks, whose Concerto in D major
opens the disc, was born in Bath. His father was a violinist,
with whose band the young Brooks performed in the concerts
that Thomas Linley the Elder put on in the town. His concerto
brims with elegance, poise, and polish, and demonstrates
some confident writing on the part of the younger composer.
Thomas Linley Junior was still in his
mid-teens when wrote his violin concerto in F major. His
father was the Bath harpsichordist, composer and teacher
and, as aforementioned, directed concerts in Bath. These
later featured his own children: the girls, Mary, Elizabeth
and Maria were singers, while young Thomas played the violin.
Linley was an exact contemporary, and friend, of Mozart,
and was extremely highly esteemed as composer – he died
young in a tragic boating accident, cutting short a composing
career that promised to be quite spectacularly good.
This is the only one of the twenty or
more violin concertos that Linley wrote that has come down
to us complete. It has an innovative and advanced first
movement, a lyrical, beautiful, and a slightly mysterious
slow movement Adagio. The last movement Rondeau incorporates
the rhythm of the gavotte, and is quite delightful.
Thomas Shaw was also born in Bath, probably
in early – mid-1750s, and he remained there as a violinist
before moving, like Brooks and Linley, to London. His violin
concerto in G major has a lively and dancing first movement Allegro
Moderato, a lilting and exquisitely beautiful slow
movement Arioso, that hints at a gentle folk-tune,
and an elegantly light and dancing final movement Rondeau.
The disc concludes with the Somerset-born
composer Samuel Wesley’s violin concerto in D major – again,
written in his mid-teens. The piece, which was written
for concerts that Samuel organised with his brother Charles
at their family home in Marylebone, is quite courtly in
style, and contains some complicated and sophisticated
writing for one so young.
There is hugely attractive music here – with
some incredibly assured writing from the young English
composers. The performances are excellent – soloist Elizabeth
Wallfisch is technically brilliant although the sound is
occasionally slightly harsh. The Parley of Instruments,
directed from the fortepiano by Peter Holman, give sympathetic
and enthusiastic accompaniment. A very good disc.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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