Notes and Editorial Reviews
Remarkably, Naxos now has two very good recordings of Britten's still-too-rarely played Violin Concerto. The main reason for its rarity probably has to do with the fact that it ends softly, but it's a magnificent work. Although this performance, previously issued on Collins Classics, is very good, with Lorraine McAslan a very capable exponent of the solo part, I marginally prefer Rebecca Hirsch's previous outing for this label, both for her more shapely handling of the final passacaglia as well as for the highly apt coupling: the Cello Symphony. Here you get two rarities: Canadian Carnival and the colorful Mont Juic Suite, a collaborative effort between Britten and Lennox Berkeley.
As with all the releases in this series, Steuart Bedford conducts superbly, and the sonics are excellent--and Naxos was right to make all of the Collins Britten series available again, even given the inevitable duplication. Ideally, of course, you will need the composer's own Decca recording of the Violin Concerto, with Mark Lubotsky as soloist; but the truth is that there are no poor recordings of this work, and choice will ultimately come down to personal taste and the question of couplings (Britten's own recording has his Piano Concerto with Richter as soloist, pretty tough to beat). The bottom line: you can't go wrong no matter what your choice happens to be.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com