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Hyperion Records

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Evening Haymaking (1859) by John Linnell (1792-1882)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67546
Recording details: November 2004
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2005
Total duration: 26 minutes 18 seconds

'This new performance [Bowen] is beyond criticism … the performance [Forsyth] is everything one could desire and the recording is wonderfully ripe and glowing to match. A fascinating coupling: hearty congratulations to all' (Gramophone)

'The real discovery of this disc for me was Lawrence Power: a player of strength and delicacy, precision and poetry, who makes a strongest possible case for both pieces. The recording balances him well against the BBC Scottish Orchestra, conducted by the astonishingly versatile Martyn Brabbins, who sounds as involved as Power throughout both concertos' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Lawrence Power shows that he is every inch the soloist, with excellent tonal control and perfect intonation from one end of his instrument to the other' (American Record Guide)

'Power blows clean out of the water any preconceptions of the viola being some kind of lumbering violin. His effortless technical dexterity and clean-focused sound throughout the range (his upper notes are simply glorious) are also straight out of the Primrose copy-book. Even in a world overflowing with string players who can seemingly play anything at the drop of a hat, Power has that extra charismatic dimension which has the listener hanging on to his every note' (International Record Review)

'Bowen likes to unfold long, flowing melodies, to which he imparts an almost Straussian buoyancy and glow. Lawrence Power relishes these and brings wit and flair to the solo line' (The Strad)

'York Bowen's concerto is quirky and gently eccentric, full of unlikely harmonic twists and creatively stretching demands on soloist and orchestra. But the ardent and lucid Power is the real star of the disc' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Lawrence Power is a consummate artist and clearly heir to the long and honoured tradition of Tertis, Primrose, and Trampler. He produces a full, robust, and confident tone that is seething with emotion and that finds an ideal home in these neglected works … Brabbins's leadership is strong; he succeeds in getting the orchestra to produce and exquisite sound characterized by subtle nuances and the most subtle gradations of colour imaginable. If that's not enough, the icing on this delectable cake is the wonderful acoustical setting offered by Caird Hall, Dundee' (Fanfare, USA)

'Lawrence Power is an exceptional player and makes the material sound wonderful. Congratulations all round to conductor, orchestra and engineers too' (Manchester Evening News)

'It really is a joy to listen to. You'll love the finale in particular, with its delicate use of percussion and feisty exchanges between solo and orchestra. Ideally warm, well-balanced sound completes a release of truly unusual distinction' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Once again Power and Martyn Brabbins make the strongest possible advocates, and this excellently produced release enjoys splendid sound to make the most of the musical rewards of the Bowen' (ClassicalSource.com)

'Hyperion is yet again to be praised for an exceptional recording of largely unknown repertoire … the liner notes by Lewis Foreman offer keen insight into the lives of both composers and their work … the performances are consistently strong and convincing. In short, this is an exceptionally fine recording of two important viola concertos from this end of the Romantic era' (Nineteenth-Century Music Review)

Viola Concerto in G minor
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
When Forsyth’s Viola Concerto in G minor was first performed at the Queen’s Hall Promenade Concerts on 12 September 1903 it represented a significant development – possibly the first full-blown concerto for viola by a British composer. It is interesting that when it was published in 1904, by Schott of Mainz, the title was given in French and the piano reduction was by the composer John Ireland – this was presumably Forsyth offering a paid job to supplement Ireland’s meagre income as a church organist. The first performance was played by the violist Émile Férir, to whom the published score is dedicated (‘à son ami Férir’). It was repeated by Dan Godfrey at Bournemouth on 28 March 1907, when the soloist was the Dutchman Siegfried Wertheim, Tertis’s successor as the first viola of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra. Yet Tertis ignored it.

It is interesting to see the status of solo viola players before Tertis came on the scene. At the first performance Tertis would have been the first viola in the Queen’s Hall Orchestra, yet he does not mention the work. This reinforces the impression that Tertis appears not to have related to this concerto: he does not include it in his list of British viola concertos in his autobiography. Soon afterwards Férir went to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with whom he appeared as a soloist on twenty-four occasions between 1903 and 1918, and in 1912 he appeared with the Boston Symphony as soloist in Forsyth’s Chanson Celtique. When Sir Henry Wood conducted at the Hollywood Bowl in 1926, he tells us, he again encountered Férir.

Forsyth is certainly a master of the singing line, and was clearly writing for a player whose instrumental timbre was known to him. The concerto’s unusual introduction is notable for the solo viola’s questionings and contrasting assertive double-stoppings (appassionato), followed by wistful musings (lento dolce), all of which is eventually elaborated into a long statement. An orchestral tutti announces another idea without the soloist, but there is a pause before we reach the movement proper with the soloist’s ever-extended lyrical line, propelled forward by oft-repeated triplets, and soon repeated by the orchestra.

The slow movement is very simple. It opens portentously with a trumpet call, soon repeated by horns, before the soloist sings its elegiac tune elaborated over forty-six bars, this mood being underlined by the ensuing cor anglais. The viola returns more passionately with new material and over a broad span builds to a climax when the orchestra sings out the opening theme. The long closing viola cantilena returns us to the elegiac mood and the vision fades as if in a dream.

The finale opens with much orchestral huffing and puffing, in no way typical of the lyrical movement that follows which is constructed from a jerky dotted idea and a lovely tune that might have been written by Dvorák. The soloist is sometimes emphatic with much double-stopping, especially towards the end, but the overall impression of good humour remains.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2005

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