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Augusta Read Thomas: Dream Catcher etc

Clarissa Bevilacqua (violin); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Vimbayi Kaziboni (Nimbus)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Augusta Read Thomas
Dream Catcher; Violin Concerto No. 3, ‘Juggler in Paradise’; Rhea Enchanted; Pulsar etc
Clarissa Bevilacqua (violin); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Vimbayi Kaziboni
Nimbus NI 8109   62:53 mins

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The elongated, high-pitched melodies of Dream Catcher sear into consciousness like afterimages brought on by staring at the sun. The title track to this debut album by Clarissa Bevilacqua, a student at Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik, is one of Augusta Read Thomas’s nine solo violin pieces, a collection of finely crafted miniatures notable for their distinctive use of the upper-register and intense splashes of timbral colour.

There are echoes of Debussy (not just in the titles), Stravinsky and Knussen (particularly his solo cello repertoire), with whom Thomas studied at Tanglewood during the 1980s. Although the American composer is well represented by a large discography (Nimbus) and enjoys a high profile in the US (she had a residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), her music is seldom heard in UK concert halls.

In this premiere recording of the 2008 work ‘Juggler in Paradise’ – Thomas’s Third Violin Concerto – the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni) makes a strong case for further performances. Bevilacqua balances the jerky playfulness of the early movements with the subtlety and space demanded in the final dream-like sequence.

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Claire Jackson