Creith; Arnell; Pitfield

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Creith; Arnell; Pitfield
LABELS: Dutton
WORKS: Violin Concerto in G minor; Violin Concerto in One Movement; Concerto Lirico
PERFORMER: Lorraine McAslan (violin); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7221

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Dutton here resurrects three long-buried British violin concertos, in the process disinterring the remarkable figure of Guirne Creith (a made-up pseudonym: she was born Gladys Cohen), composer, pianist, singer, teacher (her pupils include David Fanshawe) and authority on food and wine. She studied at the RAM and was reasonably successful between the Wars.

Her G minor Concerto, which she reckoned her best work, was written for Albert Sammons, who gave the BBC broadcast premiere in 1936. Situated somewhere on a line between Ernest Bloch and EJ Moeran, the Concerto’s first movement tends to over-work its material by phrase-repetition, but the slow movement is a gorgeous invention whose delicate lyricism goes straight to the heart, and the irrepressible dance-like finale makes a rousing conclusion.

The Yorkshire composer Thomas Pitfield’s 1958 Concerto Lirico was partly destroyed by him in disgust at the indifference shown by the conductor at its first performance, but luckily a complete microfilm has been rediscovered. Unassuming yet deeply-felt, it’s further evidence of a profoundly gifted musician who could say much in a brief compass without unnecessary fuss.

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Richard Arnell’s early (and distinctly Hindemithian) single-movement concerto dates from 1940; tautly designed and highly effective, it contributes to Arnell’s growing reputation on CD. The excellent Lorraine McAslan is a sensitive soloist, giving all three works the supremely confident advocacy they need, and deserve. Calum MacDonald