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Roberto GERHARD (1896-1970)
Symphony No. 4 ‘New York (1967) [26:04]
Violin Concerto (1942-5) [34:03]*
Yfrah Neaman (violin)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis
rec. 1972, London. ADD
originally released as Decca Argo ZRG701
LYRITA SRCD.274 [60.10]

Experience Classicsonline


In this disc Lyrita steps about as far away as you can go from their accustomed heartland. This is music of dissonant discontinuity and conflagration – especially in the symphony. Its upheavals and eruptions are expressed in pointillistic silvery fragments and vertiginous stop-starts and mood-swings.sample We are immersed in this pool of imaginative effects immediately in Gerhard's Fourth - and final completed - Symphony. It stutters, creeps, excoriates and bawls. Previously recorded by Naive and by Chandos this its world premiere recording. In that sense it is an awesomely honest document recorded in the last year of Gerhard's life. In addition however it shouts the ultima thule of 1970s exclusivity and ivory towers.

The Violin Concerto is written in more beguilingly compromising tones. Here there is a connection with melody and an evident allegiance for the long melodic line even if it does have an astringent after-taste. Yfrah Neaman with his unmistakable silver thread of tone is as dedicated and fluent an interpreter as his BBC colleagues. In the finale Gerhard gives us a buzz-saw pell-mell climactic display - not above borrowing from Sarasate in mood rather than detail. Overall the concerto can be loosely and rather unsophisticatedly bracketed with the two Rawsthorne concertos, the Frankel and the Fricker; the latter reissued this month on Lyrita. The silence at the end of the concerto demands a burly if misty-eyed cheer from even the most impassive of listeners.

The BBCSO and its then conductor Colin Davis put this music through the hoops. Did anyone at the time think that these works would be recorded more than once. In the studio they must have thought they were recording these works for all time. The results certainly suggest that.

The completely satisfying notes are by MusicWeb writer Paul Conway one of the rising and risen authorities on twentieth century British music. Paul’s article on the Gerhard symphonies is well worth your attention … and mine. However don’t miss Guy Rickard’s article while you are here.

Rob Barnett


Also Available
SRCD.2271 John Ireland Sextet, Trios and Sonatas for clarinet, cello & violin
Yfrah Neaman / Julian Lloyd Webber / Eric Parkin
SRCD.2217 Sir Michael Tippett The Midsummer Marriage - Opera in Three Acts
Chorus & Orchestra of Royal Opera House/Sir Colin Davis




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