Notes and Editorial Reviews
The first two works here were taken down directly from a live concert at the Cadogan Hall.
Lilian Elkington’s tone poem Out of the Mist begins in the same mistily suggestive reaches as Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead except that the atmosphere is more of dawn than deepest night. Those mists link uncannily with another rare work I heard in concert last year: Walter Thomas Gaze Cooper’s Piano Quintet SeaSound - A Rhapsody of the Sea. Its tragic-heroic heights have a sturdily unhurried ‘growl’ rather akin to Parry. Elkington wrote all her music before her marriage in 1926. This tone poem was inspired by the image of HMS Verdun emerging from the Channel mists bringing the unknown warrior back to English shores.
Perhaps one day we will hear more of the music of this Birmingham-born Bantock pupil.
It is not new to disc. It was issued on CD about five years ago by Dutton and although the Dutton version is more polished than this, Purser and the Orion Orchestra catch the miasmic sea-fog just as well as they do the rasping heroics.
This live concert performance of the Dorothy Howell Piano Concerto comes from the same evening as the Elkington. It too has its mead of rough orchestral edges, including a crash in the first few minutes but this compact piano concerto is most romantically and tellingly put across by Valentina Seferinova. It has a decidedly grown-up late-romantic atmosphere and must have been written by someone with a real admiration for Rachmaninov. It that sense it can broadly-speaking be pigeon-holed with the Stanford Second Piano Concerto, the Dobrowen and those by Roger Sacheverell Coke. It ends in defiance and triumph and is duly greeted with the warmest applause.
Howell has been on Cameo before with her potent tone poem Lamia. I hope there is more to come from her catalogue. That’s two women composers represented on this disc. I hope that Cameo will consider recording the music of Irish composer Ina Boyle whose music would fit this series to a tee.
The compact Harpsichord Concerto by Cyril Scott is from a very different pen. It is heard here from the Malta Phil. Their conductor Michael Laus is at the harpsichord articulating the athletically active solo line. Everything here is most professionally delivered with executant skills of the highest order. The harmonies sway and melt - a sort of art-nouveau dream vision which then decays into dark groves and a black pool. It’s all very Machen and Lovecraft - somehow more potently charged than Ireland’s Forgotten Rite. The central core at 2:47 is a Pastorale which becomes about as romantic as Scott gets. This is certainly more lush and moist that Walter Leigh’s Harpsichord Concerto (1934) which veers more towards the neo-classical. It’s all glamorously done and merits the highest praise. This work was premiered by Lucille Wallace in 1937 at the Wigmore Hall with Angel Grande conducting. Many of the Scott Concertos have now been recorded courtesy of Chandos (Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto; also the piano concertos 1 and 2), Dutton (the fascinating early cello and piano concertos on CDLX 7302 and the 1946 Oboe Concerto) and Lyrita. A handful are still at liberty and should be well worth the effort of tracking down. They include The Poem, The Melodist and the Nightingale for cello and orchestra (1929). And what happened to the Concerto for two violins and orchestra which preceded the harpsichord concerto by a couple of years?
The CD concludes with a complete non-sequitur but it’s good to have the additional music even if it makes a brutal gear-change from the English works.
The Third Serenade by Salomon Jadassohn in fact belongs to the series reflected here. Its yearning nobility attains symphonic weight in the Cavatina and Intermezzo. The Scherzo is alert and the whole work makes a satisfying companion for the second symphonies of Brahms and Schumann, the two Brahms Serenades and Mendelssohn’s Italian and Scottish symphonies. Jadassohn has a resilient lyrical gift. The results here are most polished and, more to the point, touchingly eloquent. Quite a discovery: flighty and charming without being superficial.
The disc is extremely well documented by Gareth Vaughan. His notes are packed with information and interest - not always companions when it comes to music commentary.
- Rob Barnett,
MusicWeb Internaional Read less
Works on This Recording
Out of the Mist by Lillian Elkington
Orion Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1921; England
Concerto for Piano in D minor by Dorothy Howell
Valentina Seferinova (Piano)
Orion Symphony Orchestra
Concerto for Harpsichord by Cyril Scott
Michael Laus (Harpsichord)
Malta Philharmonic Orchestra
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