COMPOSERS: Ives,Mendelssohn et al,Rachmaninov,Tchaikovsky,Vaughan Williams,Wlaton
WORKS: The Lark Ascending; Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’; The Unanswered Question; Vocalise
PERFORMER: Various conductors and orchestras
CATALOGUE NO: NI 7009 DDD
This is a curious hotchpotch and no mistake! Sixty-three minutes of slow, restrained music by a varied batch of composers – Rachmaninov and Vaughan Williams rubbing shoulders with Charles Ives, Tchaikovsky and Walton, the teenage Mendelssohn and, for some reason, the Adagio from Haydn’s Symphony No. 24. The accolade must go to Tadaaki Otaka and the BBC Welsh SO for their expressive treatment of Rachmaninov (Respighi’s tasteful orchestration of the Etude-Tableau Op. 39/2, originally for piano solo; and the lovely Vocalise).
In contrast, the English String Orchestra’s intonation is not always spot on, though Vaughan Williams’s Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’ are broadly satisfying and Michael Bochmann’s soaring solo line in The Lark Ascending is utterly convincing. The Gulbenkian Orchestra brings a sombre coolness to Ives’s The Unanswered Question – which is as it should be, of course. If this is the sort of gallimaufry you want, there’s much to enjoy. The insert notes do no more than duplicate the information on the box, adding the names of a few soloists. There is no commentary on any of the music.Wadham Sutton