Scott: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4: Symphony No. 1; Cello Concerto

LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Orchestral Works, Vol. 4: Symphony No. 1; Cello Concerto
PERFORMER: Paul Watkins (cello); BBC Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: Chandos CHAN 10452
Chandos’s fourth volume of Cyril Scott orchestral music continues the pioneering work of its predecessors. Scott’s First Symphony of 1899, composed while he was a student in Germany and dedicated to the poet Stefan George, had precisely one performance (in 1900, at George’s behest) before this recording; the Cello Concerto, dating from 1937, has never been played before at all. Neither work has deserved such total obscurity. The Symphony, his first major orchestral work, which Scott himself ‘consigned to the void’ as an overlong student effort, turns out to be quite concise and full of sparkling if often rather lightweight invention, though showing his lack of experience in its failure to satisfyingly clinch some of its arguments – for example at the end of the variation finale. The first two pages of the scherzo, missing in the manuscript, have been reconstructed by Leslie De’Ath. The Cello Concerto (actually Scott’s second) was probably written for Beatrice Harrison, but she never played it. A mature work, it has a large, rhapsodically meditative first movement succeeded by a very short ‘pastoral intermezzo’ and a lively, capering finale with some slightly grotesque elements. The Delian rhapsodising and chromatic harmony are kept in check by a fine sense of structural balance and the piece seems very effectively written for the solo instrument as well as beautifully and lushly scored. Paul Watkins is an eloquent soloist and Martyn Brabbins directs taut but sympathetic performances.