COMPOSERS: Britten,Elgar,Vaughan Williams & Jacob
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Musical Landscape
PERFORMER: Royal Academy Soloists/Clio Gould
CATALOGUE NO: 011 (available from RAM: 020 7873 7333)
The Musical Landscape is the title given (not inappropriately I feel) to this journey through the heartland of English string music. The performers, the 24-strong Royal Academy Soloists directed by violinist Clio Gould, play these often taxing scores (Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations are notoriously difficult to bring off) with a high degree of finesse, tonal refinement and virtuosity.
The most compelling aspect of these offerings is that they display a spontaneity and élan that can only be harnessed at the point of discovery. These are talented, dedicated young musicians tackling this music, one assumes, for the first time, well before hardened ‘professional’ cynicism and detachment set in.
So there’s never a hint of self-consciousness about their lovely, sentimental, appealingly vulnerable reading of Elgar’s string Serenade. And how keenly these players sense the awesome, modal grandeur of Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia, judging by their superb account of it. Best of all, though, is their audacious romp through Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations which end this collection – if this is typical of the standards being set these days on Marylebone Road, the future of Britain’s orchestral community seems assured. A fine debut by these young artists, despite the boomy acoustic of the RAM’s Duke’s Hall. Michael Jameson