An Eventful Morning in East London with Harriet Mackenzie and the English Symphony Orchestra

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: D Matthews,D Pritchard,Doolittle,Fokkens,Patterson
LABELS: Nimbus Alliance
ALBUM TITLE: An Eventful Morning in East London
WORKS: 21st-century violin concertos by Fokkens, Patterson, D Pritchard, Doolittle & D Matthews
PERFORMER: Harriet Mackenzie (violin); English String Orchestra; *English Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Woods
CATALOGUE NO: NI6295

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Rest easy: the disc’s title work refers not to London’s hipster hotspot but South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, with Fokken’s An Eventful Morning Near East London (2006) setting the scene for this diverse collection of contemporary works for violin and orchestra. Fokken’s single-movement concerto is exquisitely crafted, conjuring a ‘hazardously cattle-infested stretch of motorway’ in complex counterpoint, bustling percussion and thrillingly stratospheric scoring for violin soloist, performed with panache and precision by the excellent Harriet Mackenzie.

Fokken’s arresting work is teamed with two other powerful evocations of place. Deborah Pritchard’s Wall of Water (2014) is a vivid response to the tumultuous seascapes of painter Maggi Hambling, with both composition and performance crackling with energy. In satisfying contrast, Emily Doolittle’s falling still (2001) is a delicate meditation on the natural world, solo violin floating above a cushion of strings, offering something of a 21st-century The Lark Ascending. The disc is completed by Paul Patterson’s agile and characterful Allusions (2007) and David Matthews’s Romanza (2012), a daringly-luscious waltz which invites Mackenzie’s sumptuous tone to soar. While the recording is not always as crisp as it could be, performances are captivating.

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Kate Wakeling