Bantock: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Coronach; Salve regina

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LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Coronach; Salve regina
PERFORMER: Lorraine McAslan (violin); Michael Dussek (piano)
The revival of interest in Granville Bantock, who in the early part of his career rivalled his friend Elgar in fame and influence, has so far concentrated on his massive orchestral and choral works; but now the enterprising Dutton label has begun recording some of his chamber music. The two violin sonatas were both written in the late Twenties and early Thirties, when Bantock was in his sixties, though they cling to the musical language of some three or four decades earlier. The first sets out with a fine Romantic surge, and its central slow movement opens with some memorable melodic writing, but all too often the work lapses into mechanical pattern-making. This weakness is even more obvious in the Second Sonata, in which the delicate salon-style middle movement is blown up to nearly ten minutes. In both sonatas, and in two earlier pieces based respectively on a Scottish lament and plainchant, Lorraine McAslan and Michael Dussek display secure technique and fine Romantic style, aided by a sympathetic acoustic. But all their efforts could not persuade me that these are more than minor rediscoveries. Anthony Burton