The Lark Ascending

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Album title:
The Lark Ascending
Composer(s):
Vaughan Williams; EJ Moeran; Delius; Holst; Elgar
Works:
Works by Vaughan Williams; Delius; Moeran; Holst; Elgar
Performer:
Tasmin Little (violin); BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis
Label:
Chandos
Catalogue Number:
CHAN 10796
Performance :
starstarstarstarstar
Recording:
starstarstarstarstar
5
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
The Lark Ascending

Large lettering proclaims The Lark Ascending as this release’s title – and then when you start playing it, you hear the opening of something much less familiar. EJ Moeran – for all his famous alcoholic excesses – was a remarkably consistent composer, and his Violin Concerto (1942) finds his music at its strongest and most inventive. The two slower outer movements pin down an idiom resembling a winsome fusion of Delius’s harmony and Khachaturian’s melodic flow; and while the idea of Moeran in Irish-jig mode might seem a dubious prospect, the result here is a central scherzo which really is fun.

 Tasmin Little’s stellar playing – brimming with gorgeous and glitz-free tone, plus a lovely range of light and shade – then graces Delius’s early-ish Légende (already characteristic), Holst’s early A Song of the Night (less so, but substantial nonetheless) and Roger Turner’s skilled conflations of the orchestral and violin-and-piano versions of three Elgar bonbons. Little’s spacious and serene way with The Lark Ascending is both beautiful, and beautifully unfussy. State-of-the-art sensitivity and support come from Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic; and Chandos’s recorded sound presents a feast of clear orchestral detail.

Malcolm Hayes

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