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Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Overture to Pélleas and Mélisanda op.5 (1900) [17:21]
Concerto in D for piano and orchestra op.10 (1900) [29:35]
Concerto for cello and orchestra op.19 (1902) [20:52]
Peter Donohoe (piano)
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Martin Yates
rec. Watford Colosseum, 26-28 November 2012
World premiere recordings
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7302 [69:10]

Percy Grainger’s obsessive collecting of scores and other composers’ memorabilia and ephemera has paid dividends. The resulting archive is now held by the University of Melbourne. While it has been nowhere near as rewarding to enterprising listeners as the remarkable assemblage of scores and parts held by the Edwin A Fleisher collection it is beginning to yield up its treasures. We can hope for more but here are three works that we would not have had but for that archive.
 
There’s quite a bit of reconstructive work behind the present CD its anthology of rare early Scott. The revisions, realisations and completions are by Martin Yates and the editing of the solo cello part is by Raphael Wallfisch. Yates is no stranger to such projects as we know from his Moeran Symphony No. 2 and the recently issued Bax symphony in F.
 
Listening to the present disc we gain some impression of the sounds Cyril Scott was making during his sensationally glamorous early twenties. These are works which previously were just titles and passing references in the often frustratingly unspecific autobiography Bone of Contention and in the early histories of The Proms and the Royal Philharmonic Society.
 
Chandos has issued four ample and gorgeous CDs with a swathe of Scott’s mature orchestral music. Only ‘their’ Second Symphony is anything like as early as the Dutton works. The present disc stands as an invaluable complement to that series with its distinctive oblique lyricism and expressionist exotic swooning. Add to that the Ogdon/Herrmann disc of Scott’s numbered piano concertos on Lyrita, a sub-par but listenable Marco Polo collection from Peter Marchbank (8.223485), the Harpsichord Concerto on Cameo Classics (C9041CD) and a nice account of the Oboe Concerto, also on Dutton.
 
The Pélleas and Mélisanda overture runs to 17 minutes so has the dimensions of a tone poem - as Lewis Foreman points out in his liner-note. The music is irradiated with light - a translucent Delian quality is abroad. About two-thirds of the way in the music briefly becomes more animated. It ends in brooding and angry morning light. Surely we will not have to wait all that long for Scott's other two Maeterlinck-based overtures: Princesse Maleine and Aglavaine et Sélysette.
 
The language of the three-movement Piano Concerto does not seem all that detached from that of the 1915 First Piano Concerto. There is the same hieratic tone and impulsively spontaneous and eruptive-mystic demeanour. Just occasionally one glimpses Rachmaninov but nowhere near as often as you might guess. The liquid arpeggiation and oriental accents of the Intermezzo are memorable. The finale is more grandly demonstrative and the ideas are good and indelible. That said, this movement sits awkwardly with the very distinctive preceding movements. The whole thing is however convincingly carried off by Peter Donohoe and Yates. The ending is coruscatingly exultant, complete with a scree of piano notes and some heroic brass calls.
 
The 20-minute Cello Concerto is to a Delian specification although it does end with an Allegro rather than a dreamy Lento. Raphael Wallfisch is an inspired and completely dependable guide through a work that, like the piano concerto, belies its early date. The music has a touching fullness and heart-felt sensitivity.
 
Now how about Dutton giving us the recording premieres of two very strong yet otherwise neglected concertos - the Violin Concerto and the Cello Concerto - by Sergei Bortkiewicz?
 
Here are three strikingly individual works from the young Cyril Scott, each with its own heat signature and distinctive character - by no means juvenilia.  

Rob Barnett 

 
Cyril Scott on Chandos
Symphony No. 2/Violin Concerto CHAN10407
Symphony No. 3/Piano Concerto 2 CHAN10211 ~~ review 2
Symphony No. 4/Piano Concerto 1 CHAN10376
Cello Concerto etc CHAN10452 


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