One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements



TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage



Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Songs for Strings
John DOWLAND (1563-1626)
Time stands still [3:31]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
A Child Asleep (arr. Donald Fraser) [6:16]
Pleading, op.48 no.1 (arr. Fraser) [3:16]
Queen Mary's Lute Song (arr. Fraser) [4:08]
David FRASER (b. 1947)
Lord Lovat's Lament [4:28]
Epilogue for Strings [4:25]
The Queen's Hall (after an improvisation by Edward Elgar) [4:02]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Nuages gris (Trube Wolken), S199 (arr. Fraser) [3:53]
Antonio LOTTI (1667-1740)
Crucifixus (arr. Fraser) [3:15]
Marin MARAIS (1656-1728)
Sonnerie de Sainte Genevieve du Mont de Paris (arr. Fraser) [4:36]
Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768)
Fugue in G minor [3:22]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Ground in C minor [3:29]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Valse, a la maniere de Borodine (arr. Fraser) [3:04]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1871-1915)
Canon (arr. Fraser) [3:56]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Largo (arr. Fraser) [3:57]
English Chamber Orchestra/English Symphony Orchestra/Donald Fraser
rec. 2012/18, Studios 1 & 2 Abbey Road, London; Barn Studio, Shirland, USA
AVIE AV2391 [58:43]

Donald Fraser’s orchestration of Elgar’s Piano Quintet and his equally startling arrangement for choral forces of Sea Pictures have been widely reviewed and mulled over. There is more Elgar in this disc, a series of small-scaled arrangements for strings that run from Dowland and Marias to Fraser originals by way of Porpora, Liszt, Ravel and other compositional luminaries.

Regarding Elgar first, Fraser has turned to one of the composer’s recorded piano improvisations of 1929, refashioning it as The Queen’s Hall. In string guise, and subtly nourished, it sounds precisely like one of the composer’s light morceaux. The three selected songs are among Elgar’s best-known. Fraser has encoded a heartfelt viola solo into Pleading and this gives it a rather Canto popolare feel whilst in A Child Asleep the strings are muted – sweetly and eloquently done. Queen Mary’s Lute Song offers pizzicati supplying the refulgent melody.

Of the antique material, if one can put it that way, Dowland’s Time Stands Still is co-opted to the Great British String Tradition, though it was astute of Fraser to contrast a viol-like introduction with the ensuing bold romantic string wash that follows. The verses are varied to give contrast too. Michael Nyman has explored Purcell’s Ground in C minor, of course, but Fraser pursues very different aims, Lotti’s eight-part Crucifixus is ardently expressive, and the string layering in Vivaldi’s Largo, from the Concerto for two cellos, well calibrated.

Elsewhere, a darker, more mysterious texture suffuses Liszt’s Nuages gris and Fraser visits Scriabin’s very youthful Canon, written when Scriabin was a boy of twelve. Ravel’s Valse, in the manner of Borodin is hardly reflective of too much individuality but Fraser’s work is nevertheless deftly authoritative. Lord Lovat’s Lament was written by a direct ancestor called David Fraser and it shows how imaginative sonorities can evoke the skirl of the pipes. Donald Fraser’s own Epilogue for Strings is a lyrical arrangement of his choral Amen, written for Jessye Norman. A postlude introduces Marin Marais’ The Bells of St Genevieve (Sonnerie), an ‘arrangement of an arrangement’ Fraser made some decades ago back in the 1990s. It’s very different, in intent and execution, from anything else in this disc.

Fraser himself conducts both orchestras in warm immediate acoustics and has written the welcome booklet notes, complete with session photographs.

Jonathan Woolf

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

January


Linda BUCKLEY
From Ocean’s Floor

December


Conner Riddle Songs


Rodzinski Sibelius


Of Innocence and Experience

November


Symphonies 1, 2, 3