COMPOSERS: Corp; Howells
LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: Corp: Cello Concerto; Howells: Cello Concerto (completed Palmer & Clinch); Two Pieces for Small Orchestra, Op. 20
PERFORMER: Alice Neary (cello), Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Ronald Corp
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7317
Howells’s Cello Concerto was one of several works that became inextricably linked in his mind with the sudden death of his son Michael from polio. He completed the first movement, and a short score of the second, which Christopher Palmer orchestrated. There were also sketches for a finale, which the musicologist Jonathan Clinch has now filled in and augmented, to give a complete three-movement work which here receives its premiere recording.
The opening ‘Fantasia’ is a broad structure, stretching to nearly 18 minutes, although such is soloist Alice Neary’s skill in not over-playing her hand too early that the unfolding of the material seems pleasingly organic. Her mellow, elegiac tone suits perfectly the central ‘Threnody’, beside which the Waltonian jauntiness of the finale – to a fairly large extent based on conjecture – seems somehow forced and stylistically out of kilter.
Conductor Ronald Corp’s own Cello Concerto is lighter and springier in texture, though in the tricksy syncopations of the opening movement it sounds a little less well-rehearsed than the Howells. The sound is solid and informative, if a little boxy.