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Howick’s disc of British Violin Concertos is recommended

Clare Howick; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Grant Llewellyn (Naxos)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

British Violin Concertos
Works by Patterson, Leighton & Jacob
Clare Howick (violin); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Grant Llewellyn
Naxos 8.573791

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Despite its ultra-pedestrian title, this album can be warmly recommended even beyond dedicated fans of British music. Patterson’s Concerto hardly pushes the boundaries of convention, as the jolly-hockey-sticks start of the opening ‘Toccata’ movement makes clear; yet the music soon enough develops a sharp-focus and strikingly individual strand of lyrical inventiveness. In the central ‘Barcarolle’, the orchestral harpist has a linking role that mediates between the violin and orchestra almost as a second soloist, and Patterson’s orchestration throughout is of ear-beguiling skill.

The semi-modernist idiom of Kenneth Leighton’s Concerto (1952), reflecting his study with Petrassi in Italy, may surprise listeners familiar with his church music. A four-movement work, its sustained emotional charge culminates in a concluding slow ‘Epilogo’ of genuine expressive power. Gordon Jacob’s Concerto occupies much more benign and conventional territory, but does so with a charm and accomplishment that lifts the music happily beyond routine.

Clare Howick, for whom Patterson wrote his ‘Serenade’ Concerto, performs all three works with superb command, plus a glittering weight of tone surely not only due to the Stradivarius violin lent to her by the Royal Academy of Music for this recording. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra accompanies with freshness and precision.

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Malcolm Hayes