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Flos Campi/ Viola Concerto CD

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Product details

  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir John McEwen
  • Audio CD (31 Oct 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B005OCES5M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,437 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Suite for viola and small orchestra (RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS) - Lawrence Power/BBC National Orchestra of Wales
2. Viola Concerto (SIR JOHN MCEWEN) - Lawrence Power/BBC National Orchestra of Wales
3. Flos Campi (RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS) - Lawrence Power/BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Product Description

CD Description

Lawrence Power has established himself as the most sought-after violist of his generation and his sumptuous tone and persuasive interpretations have lead to many comparisons with the pioneering British violist Lionel Tertis. Indeed, the three works on this disc were written for Tertis, who did so much to broaden the instruments musical repertoire and raise its status to an accepted solo instrument. The two Vaughan Williams works display an unabashed romanticism and pastoral elegance. Flos Campi, meaning Flower of the field, was completed in 1925 and puzzled audiences with its ambiguous form and unusual orchestration. Despite the prominent solo viola and wordless chorus, it is neither a concerto nor a choral work. The seamless viola line moves in unity with the orchestra and the chorus appears as a body of instruments, creating an effect of mesmerizing beauty and calm. The little-performed Suite for viola and small orchestra was written ten years later and contains some of the composers most lyrical inventions. The lush orchestration and memorable themes in Sir John McEwens 1901 concerto expose this large-scale work as a neglected gem of the viola repertoire and Powers performance is sure to set a new benchmark. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, under the expert and unfailingly sensitive guidance of Martyn Brabbins, provides expert backing throughout .


The performance seems to be of high quality:certainly,the seriousness and commitment of these musicians are considerable,and their musicanship and technical mastery are second to none. --IRR,Nov'11

Lawrence is the perfect advocate for both works,with his rich,warm,sensuous tone and flamboyant virtuosity. CD OF THE WEEK --Sunday Times,06/11/11

The compositions here were inspired by the virtuoso playing of Lionel Tertis (1876-1975) a matchless advocate of the songful, soulful viola not merely as the middle voice amid orchestra or quartet but as a solo instrument too. Lawrence Power, using an Italian viola made in 1610, plays with a tone as dark as a cello, and a technique as agile as a violinist's: the ideal combination. The largely neglected Scottish composer John Blackwood McEwen wrote his ambitious viola concerto in 1901 a lyrical, almost Brahmsian work worth discovering. RVW's luscious Flos Campi with chorus, orchestra and solo viola, and his Suite for viola and small orchestra complete the disc decidedly a favourite of 2011. --The Observer, Sunday 13 November 2011

Critics Choice 2011 --Gramophone,Dec'11

Chosen as one of the Top 100 Cds of 2011 --Sunday Times,11/12/11

Lawrence Power finds much to draw out in the Suite and Flos Campi. Performance **** Recording *** --BBC Music Magazine,Jan'12

Listening to this outstanding release, it seems incredible that just a few years ago the viola was still considered something of a solo novelty. Power's finest recording to date. ***** --Classic FM Magazine,Feb'12

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christine M. Pluck on 23 April 2012
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This is a most wonderful CD. The Vaughan Williams pieces are both magical and mystical and the concerto by John Blackwell McEwan is not only on a large scale but one of the best in the repertoire. As these pieces may be unfamiliar and you may be wishing to "dip your toe into the water of something a bit different", I will outline the works in the order they occur on the disc.

Vaughan Williams Suite for Viola and Small Orchestra (25.5 minutes)

There are eight separate element in three Groups:

Group 1
Prelude - majestic and uplifting - the viola really soars.
Carol - beautiful but more reflective.
Christmas Dance - lively and more rustic.

Group 2
Ballad - An elergy - a slow opening is transformed into a lively dance.
Moto perpetuo - very lively indeed, sounds as though Paganini has got hold of the viola. Not pretty but techically brilliant.

Group 3
Musette - Thoughtful and beautiful with a hint of wistful melancholy, moving into a more highly orchestrated passage,
interesting contributions from the harp.
Polka melancolique - Just as it sounds.
Galop - rather jazz-like series of cadenzas - the pace is furious but the music beautiful.

John Blackwell McEwan's Viola Concerto is a major work (31 minutes) and more heavily orchestrated than most viola concertos. This was one of Lionel Tertis' first major commissions. The lightly scored Allegretto second movement, with delightful harmonies between viola and woodwind, provides good contrast to the two Allegro movements. The concerto opens dramatically with orchestral outbursts, interspersed with the viola elaborating on the orchestral themes. There is a bustling finale where the viola threatens to catch fire.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JSW on 29 Jan 2012
Flos Campi with its bitonal opening is music charged with that combination of mysticism and eroticism that only the Song of Songs and the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams can muster. The 1925 piece for viola, full orchestra and wordless chorus is VW to get your teeth into, as is the Suite for Viola and Small Orchestra (1934) that tops the bill on Hyperion's well-filled CD. The later work is in eight short movements grouped into three phases. This CD was my first hearing of it, and as always repeated listening is amply rewarded. The McEwen Viola Concerto, written in 1901, is music that begins to move on from the late Victorian and do things that are new. The whole CD is a worthy project showcasing the difficult and therefore under-represented combination of viola and orchestra. But I bought it for the Vaughan Williams and recommend it as a must for anyone already an enthusiast, as well as for those inquisitive to travel beyond well-known works such as the Lark Ascending into the wider, more fascinating sound world and enduring message of this composer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Deep Reader VINE VOICE on 16 Feb 2012
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Alerted to Vaughan Williams by a BBC 4 documentary I decided to give his music a try by purchasing this album and the Halle Orchestra's recent recording of the London Symphony and Oboe Concerto. Both are fine productions. To my surprise it is the Viola Concerto on THIS album which has really taken a trick and inspired further exploration of the VW works. Recording standards are top notch, as you would expect given their provenance. Musically it is light, full hearted, very English and slightly bucolic. I was transported to the heartlands of rural England when listening in the Scottish Highlands. The album also provided an introduction to John McEwen through his viola concerto. The very deep Flos Campi rounds the whole thing off, a model of understated passion. Site Works Vaughan Williams A London Symphony and Oboe Concerto To Ride The Mountain Winds: A History of Aerial Mountaineering and Rescue
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. H. Smith on 2 Dec 2011
This Hyperion release includes two Vaughan Williams works for viola and orchestra, and John Blackwell McEwen's Viola Concerto. "Flos Campi" ("Flower of the Field") is unique in RVW's oeuvre, both formally and structurally, and with regard to the forces for which it was written (viola, small orchestra, and wordless chorus). It is cast in six continuous movements, each of which is prefaced in the score by a quotation from the Song of Songs. It is one of the composer's most sublime pieces, with a spiritual, visionary quality throughout. The textural delicacy of the piece makes it one that is perhaps quite difficult to bring off successfully in performance, and doubly so on record. For instance, RVW directs the chorus to articulate various wordless sounds ("ah", "oh", "mmm", and so on) by altering the shape of the mouth, and these can be difficult, if not impossible to detect on a mediocre recording. Fortunately, this Hyperion presentation is technically superb, and crystal-clear throughout, and the performance itself (Lawrence Power, viola; BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, conducted by Martin Brabbins) is first-rate.

The Suite for Viola and Orchestra is a rarity on record. The only other complete recording of which I am aware is an old RCA LP (RL 25137) of 1974 with Frederick Riddle and the Bouremouth Sinfonietta conducted by Norman del Mar, although there is currently an ASV disc (DCA 1181) of just the first three movements.The full suite consists of eight movements arranged in three groups (3+2+3). Group 1 begins with a heartfelt Prelude with several tempo changes creating a slightly restless atmosphere; a lovely Carol, full of warmth and sincerity; and the inevitable (for RVW) Christmas Dance - all best wishes and good cheer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful & Engaging Music 19 July 2013
By peter_s - Published on Amazon.com
These melodic works for viola are extremely enjoyable. I've only just begun to explore the viola repetoire and the V.W. Suite and McEwen viola concerto will be listed among my favorite works. Lawrence Power's playing is top notch. Definitely a CD to purchase.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Flos Campi 12 Jun 2013
By George Magsig - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this recording. It helped me to hear what it was supposed to sound like. I had to play it in orchestra and I had never heard it before and was totally unfamiliar with the piece. Listening to this recording helped me to play it. It is not a favorite piece but it did help to be able to play it.
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