RECORDING OF THE MONTH
York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Rhapsody for cello and orchestra op. 74 (c.1924) [23:51]
Alan BUSH (1900-1995)
Concert Suite for cello and orchestra op. 37 (1952) [36:37]
Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972)
Cello Concerto (1964) [21:43]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Martin Yates
rec. St-Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 20-22 Sept 2010.
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7263 [82:25]
Allied with Dutton, Raphael Wallfisch continues his odyssey through the cello and orchestra legacy of British music of the last century. Here his orchestra and conductor are staunchly sensitive collaborators. The results are nothing less than sumptuous. The acoustic is benevolent and the engineering team have made the most of it.
The capriciously romantic, indeed Rachmaninovian, Rhapsody by Bowen is luxuriously put across with more than a few Delian moments along the way. It is a burnished sunset meditation of a piece ending with a satiated sigh.
The Alan Bush is a very substantial Concert Suite in five movements. Vera Denes played the work at its Budapest premiere in May 1952, Zara Nelsova in 1953 for its BBC radio first performance and Florence Hooton for the Proms in 1956. It's a typically serious though emotional piece occasionally making me think of Bloch. There's a raucously pounded celebratory Ballet, a serene Poem (recalling the affable warmth of the Sherwood Forest movement of Bush's Second Symphony) and a Finale that has the pattering euphoria of the finale of the Second Symphony.
In the case of Havergal Brian there are two concertos - nothing for piano - one each for violin and this one for cello receiving its world premiere recording. Conscientious Brianites will have known the piece for years from the broadcast tape of the Thomas Igloi premiere with the Polyphonia orchestra conducted by Boult. It's typical mature Brian with stuttering note-cells, toppy woodwind and march interruptions. After a dignified yet trudgingly emotive Andante comes a haughty Allegro finale. Much of the work evinces a sturdy determination - a not unfamiliar quality in Havergal Brian scores.
A generous 2 CD set for the price of one disc. A fine anthology of rare English cello treasures and a sovereign recording.
A generous anthology of rare English cello treasures.