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birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
Voice by György Kurtág
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William WORDSWORTH (1908-1988) Orchestral Music, Volume Two Piano Concerto in d minor, Op.28 (1946) [23:07]
Three Pastoral Sketches, Op.10 (1937) [17:59]
Violin Concerto in A, Op.60 (1955) [38:33]
Arta Arnicane (piano)
Kamila Bydlowska (violin)
Liepāja Symphony Orchestra/John Gibbons
rec. 21–25 January 2019, Great Amber Concert Hall, Liepāja, Latvia. DDD.
Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from
eclassical.com. TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0526
Yet again Toccata rescues a composer whose music has been unjustly
neglected; all three works here are receiving their first recordings and
all three were well worth the effort. It’s just one of eight interesting
albums released in August 2019, which used to be regarded as a slack time
by the record companies.
Wordsworth seems to have shown no false modesty about his music and he
certainly need not have done so on the evidence of this new Toccata
recording or of symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 on Lyrita (SRCD.207; No.3 also on
super-budget collection British Symphonies, SRCD.2355: 4 CDs, around
£18 but currently on offer from Presto for £10.40 –
Last year’s first volume brought us first recordings of the fourth and
eighth symphonies and other works (TOCC0480). William Kreindler hoped for
the speedy release of volume 2 –
– as did John Quinn –
– and here it is. If anything, it’s even more welcome; John Quinn found the
eighth symphony a little hard going, but there’s nothing really tough on
That’s not to say, however, that the music is at all facile. The Pastoral Sketches, Wordsworth’s earliest preserved orchestral score,
are perhaps the most approachable. Though clearly in the English pastoral
tradition, they certainly don’t qualify for the old slur that all such
music smells of cow pats. Nor, indeed, does any of the music of Vaughan
Williams, against whom the slur was made. Lovers of VW’s music will, I
think, enjoy these three Wordsworth pieces, though they are quite different
from his music or that of Herbert Howells – another composer who has only
belatedly come to be appreciated.
For Wordsworth’s forebear of the same name, love of nature was by no means
passive or peaceful – re-read Lines written above Tintern Abbey to
dispel that thought. Listening to the second of these sketches, The Lonely Tarn, easily brings to mind the idea floated in the
preface to the Lyrical Ballads, that poetry should be based on
emotion recollected in tranquillity.
The poem The Pond is often mocked, as it was by Coleridge, who
persuaded Wordsworth to change the lines about measuring it from side to
side – but the story it tells of a young mother’s desperation is far from
facile. I’m not suggesting that the poem inspired the music, but both run
deeper than a superficial reading or hearing might suggest. If anything the
third piece, Seascape, digs deeper still; this time it’s Turner’s
paintings that come to mind. At one time the title Mountain, Wind and Sky seems to have been contemplated and that
would have fitted well, too, like Hamish MacCunn’s Land of the Mountain and Flood. (Try Hyperion CDA66815 for an
anthology of MacCunn’s music: CD, or download for £8 with pdf booklet from
The two concertos dig a little deeper, especially the large-scale Violin
Concerto, but without perplexing the listener – such as myself – who is
unprepared to waste time with the avant-garde. Here, too, there’s plenty of
emotion recollected in tranquillity, particularly in the solo. I don’t want
to push the analogy between the composer and his great-great-uncle, but the
latter argued against high-flown poetic diction in favour of language
generally understood. That didn’t prevent him from breaking his own rules,
often to very good effect and usually in a way that takes us out of our
complacency1; that’s what makes him infinitely preferable to
Jane Austen. His namesake could be said similarly to present us with
understandable musical language to express meaningful ideas, but again
without fear of often taking us out of our comfort zone.
Once again Toccata have turned to good effect to an Eastern European
orchestra with the time to master new repertoire and have combined it with
two soloists who bring us to the heart of the music. No excuses need to be
made for any of the performances; all three make strong arguments for the
As usual with Toccata, the valuable notes add to the attraction of this
release; detailed and informative, they are written by Paul Conway.
The 24-bit sound is very good. The price of $21.51 from eclassical.com is
probably slightly to the advantage of non-sterling purchasers, but there’s
very little difference, even at parlous brexit-influenced exchange rates
between that and £20.50 from
the Toccata website.
Both also offer 16-bit for rather less (£12/$14.34), and the CD costs around £13.50.
One way or another, if you enjoyed the first volume, you should obtain its
successor. If not, why not go for both?
In The Old Cumberland Beggar, he pleads with society not to lock the
poor and the old in the ‘house mis-named of industry’. It's
taken me a long time to realise that having to
disentangle this apparently awkward circumlocution, which refers to the
workhouse, serves to strengthen the plea.
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