Friday, February 24, 2017

Bate, Stanley. (1911-1959) Concerto for Viola & Orchestra. Bell William Henry. (1873-1946. Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in May 2014.
First listen: 6-6-2014.
Second listen: 24-2-2017.
Label: Dutton.
Recording dates: July 2008.
Recording venue: The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford
Recording engineer: Dexter Newman.
Assistant engineer: Dillon Gallagher.
Running time: 74:54.
Classical relevance to me: TOP RECOMMENDATION.

Works performed:
Stanley Bate.
Concerto for Viola and orchestra (1944-1946)

Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Romance.

William Henry Bell.
Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. "Rosa Mystica" (1916)

[World premiere recordings]

Performed by:
Roger Chase, Viola.
BBC Concert Orchestra, Stephen Bell.

This Concerto by Stanley Bate should be a classic, and a obligatory one for a viola player in his or her repertoire.  A piece of great beauty as there ever was one.  It bears a dedication to Ralph Vaughan Williams and truth be told, it has many elements of VW  in the score.. Also not uncommon to this composer is virtuosity, bravoura, and an element of great force, but it's primarily a work that harbours many colours and moods. Philosophical and spiritual, intellectual and aesthetically of a high standard. For me this is a magical realm, where all elements of the exceptional come together.  The first movement makes you sit up by its ethereal beauty, and its magical detail that shares with you a world of mysterious bypaths. The third movement has almost a  Paganiniana allure, while the last movement plunges you back into the idiom of the first movement.  There was a broadcast of this concerto in 1947, but after that it was never heard again until now. Which if you allow me, is a British shame, to let go such a distinguished composer. If you like VW, this concerto will become a treasure to you, no doubt about that. It is already for me. This little titbit from Vaughan Williams with the title "Romance" is an orchestration by Roger Chase, the principal Viola player on this disc. And very nicely it is done.
The concerto written by Bell can be put in the same category as the Bate concerto. The description also fits on this work, and has a marvelously written first movement. It has such power and expression that I got quite overwhelmed by all the moods prevalent in it. Being on such a height it is difficult to get back into the second movement "Adagio" were all the turmoil is gone and a pastoral scene takes over and slips easily in the final part with an almost Wagnerian explosion of colour, but never in the lush way as done by Wagner, but with a certain restrain which makes it aesthetically attractive. The wealth of small instrumental additions to the orchestral colours, sometimes barely audible, make it a feast for your ears. It truly deserved my top recommendation.
You also get State of the Art sound. It's utterly amazing how good a recording can sound. This one belongs high up.




Salvatore, Giovanni. (c.1610-1688) Works for Harpsichord and Organ, plus a Missa.

New acquisition. Date of purchase: November 2017. First listen: 22-11-2017. Label: Glossa. Recording dates: October 1998 & June 1999...