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Arthur Benjamin - Violin Concerto, Romantic Fantasy & Elegy, Waltz and Toccata Classical

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

Price: £10.99
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Vocalion/Dutton Epoch Direct (Crazygreen8).

Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Classical
  • Label: Dutton Epoch
  • ASIN: B005SCRO1I
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,387 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Why has no one previously thought to release Arthur Benjamin's three string concertos together on one CD? Maybe this has to do with the difficulty of the music. Now Dutton Epoch's solo team of violinist Lorraine McAslan and violist Sarah-Jane Bradley, playing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, have produced remarkably involving performances. Here we have the almost unknown Benjamin Violin Concerto and Viola Concerto, the soloists uniting for the more familiar Romantic Fantasy for violin, viola and orchestra. Dedicated to Walton, the Violin Concerto is notable for its wealth of invention, for the English feel of the opening movement (owing to its pentatonic colouration) and for the lilting siciliana charm of the middle movement. Listeners will particularly engage with the music's energy, thrillingly articulated by soloist Lorraine McAslan's flashing violin playing especially in the driven Rondo finale. McAslan is joined by Sarah-Jane Bradley in the Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola and Orchestra. This is an delightful score of ever-shifting lyricism, of exchange and interplay between the soloist and with the orchestra. Sarah-Jane Bradley is soloist in the war-time Viola Concerto, sometimes known as 'Elegy, Waltz and Toccata', the composer's own orchestration of his Viola Sonata. Reflecting the times, Benjamin essays a score of sombre tone but of no less eloquence, expressively performed by Sarah-Jane Bradley. Includes world premiere recordings. Track listing: Violin Concerto (1931) soloist: Lorraine McAslan; Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola & Orchestra (1936) soloists: Lorraine McAslan & Sarah-Jane Bradley; Elegy, Waltz and Toccata [Viola Concerto] for Viola & Orchestra (1943) soloist: Sarah-Jane Bradley

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Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960) was an Australian composer who came to Britain to study at the RCM during its heyday under Parry and Stanford, and then decided to stay on. He is perhaps best known today for his popular light music such as Jamaican Rumba, but he was also a composer of serious music, including an impressive Symphony, and the Violin Concerto recorded here.

The Violin Concerto, written in 1931, is in the usual three-movement form. The first, Rhapsody, is full of musical invention and bravura passages for the soloist, beginning with a robust passage for soloist against a stamping, Stravinsky-like rhythm in the orchestra. The music then becomes more lyrical as the violin sings melodically, and perhaps slightly reminiscent of the Walton Viola Concerto which had appeared a couple of years earlier. The music builds in drive and force, at which point it can hardly be described as rhapsodic at all, but then subsides to a subdued ending.

In the second movement (Intermezzo) the lilting qualities of the solo instrument are much in evidence, while in the Rondo finale the tempo picks up to produce a brisk movement with plenty of rhythmic complexity - a kind of tour de force for the soloist.

The Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, dedicated to Arnold Bax and quoting from the older composer's "In the Faery Hills", was completed in 1936. The opening Baxian four-note horn call, in fact, serves as a leitmotif throughout. The relatively leisurely pace of the opening Nocturne gives way to a much more lively second movement, marked Scherzino, although there is a more graceful dance-like middle section.
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