The Violin Concerto opens with a trumpet solo that has an American feel to it. Some passages are also reminiscent of Copland and Barber with just a hint of Walton thrown in for good measure. The melodic material may be Russian in origin but the overall impression sounds as if the composer has been inspired by the English string music tradition. Vaughan Williams isn’t far away and the rapture of Tippett’s Corelli Fantasia can be heard in the chromatic harmonies produced by the divided strings. The opening to the final Vivace is reminiscent of folk music but this is Hungarian in nature rather than British. A rather beautiful, lyrical theme at the centre of the movement gives way to a cadenza and an exuberant sprint to the finish.
Although not strictly programme music, the three movements of the Clarinet Quintet are inspired by scenes from Caradog Prichard’s novel Full Moon. A soft lyrical theme links the three movements together. The second movement also makes use of the Welsh hymn tune Cyffamod with telling effect. The lively outer movements are bitter sweet in nature and the music, pregnant with ideas, always sounds as if it is going somewhere. The Better Angels of our Nature is another demonstration of the composer’s ability to write for the strings. The first section of this concerto is based on fanfare motifs, initially heard as distant cries and then building to a dynamic, fleet footed Allegro. After a brief climax the oboe plays a hushed version of the bugle call Taps that is traditionally used at funerals or at sunset. The ensuing section of peace and reconciliation is elegiac and creates the sort of atmosphere that can also be heard in Copland’s Quiet City. The last work on the disc, Goodfellow (aka Puck) is certainly Puckish in nature. The music is mischievous, entertaining and lively. There are also some passages of trance-like magic. The romantic duet for oboe and flute in the first movement is superb. You can’t keep a good man down for long though and Puck returns with a vengeance in the Allegro molto bringing the work to a quicksilver conclusion. This is a really enjoyable disc containing four memorable and entertaining pieces. The performances are all expertly done with fine contributions from the soloists. Although recorded at four different venues between 2008 and 2015 the sound quality is consistently fresh and appealing. John Whitmore, Musicweb-international
Sheet Music and Scores to support this release
NMP1013 Within The Seed
NMP1003 Carnival of the Annimals (arrangement)
NMP1001 The Great Annimal Orchestra Symphony