Notes and Editorial Reviews
Two well-kept secrets waiting to be discovered
It continues to baffle me why performances and recordings of Moeran’s gorgeous Violin Concerto are so thin on the ground. This is only the fourth version of this entrancingly tuneful and touching creation to have come my way, and while it was exciting to encounter Albert Sammons’s 1946 broadcast with Sir Adrian Boult and the BBC SO (Symposium, 5/99), I had no idea the same distinguished orchestral partnership had performed the work with Alfredo Campoli at the Royal Festival Hall. Don’t let the crumbly sound put you off: the music-making is of exemplary commitment, songful rapture and sizzling passion (a high old time is had in the Bacchic central rondo). Campoli plays with
virtuosity and golden tone, and Boult’s typically watchful accompaniment fits him like a glove. Buried treasure indeed.
Douglas Coates (1898-1974) was a new name to me. Born in Yorkshire and self-taught, his compositions include a substantial body of choral music, works for organ, piano, military and brass band, and a handful of orchestral offerings. His approachable (if not terribly distinctive) Violin Concerto in D dates from 1934 and this 1951 broadcast appears to have been its only performance. A fine one it is, too, even though it seems conductor Charles Groves was particularly critical of the work’s curious proportions, the 15-and-a-half-minute opening movement tending to dwarf the two remaining movements (neither exceeds five minutes).
It’s sad to learn that the composer found the whole experience traumatic. He promptly branded the concerto ‘a failure’ and may well have destroyed the manuscript (it has never been located). The sound here (taken from a set of acetate 78s) is more palatable than in the Moeran, but in both instances restorer Andrew Rose has worked wonders with what was evidently some intractable source material. Detailed notes complement what is a brave and instructive coupling.
-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone [7/2006]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in D major by Douglas Coates
Colin Sauer (Violin)
Sir Charles Groves
BBC Northern Symphony
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1934; England
Date of Recording: 1951
Concerto for Violin by Ernest John Moeran
Alfredo Campoli (Violin)
Sir Adrian Boult
BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1942; England
Date of Recording: 1954
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