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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another fascinating exploration, 1 April 2007
Dr. Richard M. Price (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cyril Scott: Violin Concerto; Festival Overture; Aubade; Three Symphonic Dances (Audio CD)
With this issue the Chandos recordings of Cyril Scott continue as impressive as ever, even if they cannot hope quite to repeat the triumph of their last issue (the First Piano Concerto, Early One Morning, and the Fourth Symphony), since that contained the very best of Scott's orchestral music. With the exception of the Violin Concerto, this third issue consists of lesser items, which have, however, considerable interest, particularly when they are as ravishingly played and well recorded as they are here.

The earliest work on this CD is the `Three Orchestral Dances' that Scott hewed out of his Second Symphony of 1902; these consist of two scherzando movements framing a gloriously soupy slow movement. This is youthful Scott at his most uninhibited, and shows that he could have become a highly successful composer of light classical music, had he not had higher ambitions.

The second piece in this program, chronologically, is the Aubade of 1911, a short tone poem consisting essentially of slow-moving chords. To come off it needs exceptionally delicate playing, which it certainly receives in this recording, and did not receive in the earlier recording on the Marco Polo label. It will linger long in the memory of a sympathetic listener.

The third item is a curiosity. In 1902 Scott wrote an `Overture to Princess Maleine', one of the most tragic of Maeterlinck's plays, and then radically reworked it in 1912. If one compares this track to the Orchestral Dances of 1903 and the Aubade of 1911, it is clear that much more of it must belong to 1912 than to 1902. Then in 1929 Scott took it out of the drawer, dusted it, and reworked it as a `Festival Overture'. Comparing the latter, recorded here, to the description of the 1912 version in Eaglefield Hull's book on Scott (1917), it is clear that a new, upbeat ending was provided, apart from other changes. This was an extraordinary way to produce a festive overture, and some listeners may find the result more convincing than I do. One would like to hear the 1912 version, but it is apparently lost.

The major work on this CD is the Violin Concerto written in the mid-1920s. The writing for violin with its constant melismata is perfectly conceived for the instrument, and Scott is most successful in making the orchestral part consistently interesting without creating a division of interest or ever drowning the soloist. Of familiar concertos it is closest to the Delius, and seems to me equally mesmeric. The work lacks the freshness and sheer joie de vivre of the Piano Concerto of 1914, but evidences a more mature composer, with a subtler and more varied musical language. Both works eminently deserve revival on the concert platform.
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