Frankel: Violin Concerto; Viola Concerto; Serenata concertante

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WORKS: Violin Concerto; Viola Concerto; Serenata concertante
PERFORMER: Ulf Hoelscher, Alan Smith (violin), Brett Dean (viola), Stephen Emmerson (piano), David Lale (cello); Queensland SO/Werner Andreas Albert
CATALOGUE NO: 999 422-2
CPO has already nailed its colours to the mast by embarking upon a cycle of Benjamin Frankel’s symphonies, and the release of the Violin Concerto provides an important appendix to that project. Commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951, it predates the First Symphony by seven years, and also Frankel’s adoption of a personal form of 12-note technique. Long melodic lines, sung by the violin, generate the dialectic of the concerto; its dedication to the victims of the Holocaust gives an elegiac cast to the whole work, and the hint of Alban Berg’s own Violin Concerto that filters through the last movement only sharpens its sense of loss and retrospection, which the soloist Ulf Hoelscher crystallises exactly. Neither the Viola Concerto from 1967 nor the single-movement Serenata concertante of seven years earlier has the same substance or stature, though both are beautifully wrought pieces, and the effortless way in which Frankel elides the episodes of the Serenata shows how assured his technique and his sense of musical proportioning were. Andrew Clements