The Lark Ascending

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams; EJ Moeran; Delius; Holst; Elgar
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: The Lark Ascending
WORKS: Works by Vaughan Williams; Delius; Moeran; Holst; Elgar
PERFORMER: Tasmin Little (violin); BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis


Large lettering proclaims The Lark Ascending as this release’s title – and then when you start playing it, you hear the opening of something much less familiar. EJ Moeran – for all his famous alcoholic excesses – was a remarkably consistent composer, and his Violin Concerto (1942) finds his music at its strongest and most inventive. The two slower outer movements pin down an idiom resembling a winsome fusion of Delius’s harmony and Khachaturian’s melodic flow; and while the idea of Moeran in Irish-jig mode might seem a dubious prospect, the result here is a central scherzo which really is fun.

Tasmin Little’s stellar playing – brimming with gorgeous and glitz-free tone, plus a lovely range of light and shade – then graces Delius’s early-ish Légende (already characteristic), Holst’s early A Song of the Night (less so, but substantial nonetheless) and Roger Turner’s skilled conflations of the orchestral and violin-and-piano versions of three Elgar bonbons. Little’s spacious and serene way with The Lark Ascending is both beautiful, and beautifully unfussy. State-of-the-art sensitivity and support come from Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic; and Chandos’s recorded sound presents a feast of clear orchestral detail.


Malcolm Hayes