The Fire That Breaks From Thee

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Holst,Stanford & Milford
LABELS: EM Records
ALBUM TITLE: The Fire That Breaks From Thee
WORKS: Holst: Walt Whitman Overture • Stanford: Violin Concerto No. 2 • Milford: Violin Concerto in G minor
PERFORMER: Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin); BBC Concert Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes

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Here’s a curious sales ploy: this  release’s title, prominently displayed on the spine and booklet cover, is a quotation from Gerard Manley Hopkins, which as far as I can see has nothing to do with any of the recorded contents. These need no such apology, implied or otherwise – particularly not Robin Milford’s Violin Concerto, which deserves something much better than its near-total obscurity since its completion in 1937. At just under 40 minutes it’s a long work, but not ramblingly so: Milford’s idiom has a lean purity that’s both likeable and individual, plus a flair for long-spun, yet also beautifully focused melodic line. All this is conveyed with much loveliness by Rupert Marshall-Luck’s solo playing, whose handsome tone (full but never gross) and laser-like tuning are remarkable in themselves.

Stanford’s Second Violin Concerto, composed in 1918, exists only in short score, expertly orchestrated here by Jeremy Dibble; it turns out to be an exercise in post-Brahmsian fulsomeness that nonetheless finds room for a slow movement of genuine and individual charm. However, Holst’s early, blatantly Wagnerian Walt Whitman Overture is a find for beachcombers only.

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The BBC Concert Orchestra’s excellent, cleanly played accompaniments are complemented by ultra-clear recorded sound, although Marshall-Luck’s solo violin is maybe placed a notch too far forward. Malcolm Hayes