There can be no doubt that Sir George's Violin Concerto of 1941 is a work of quality with moments of grace, grandeur and melodic beauty, but viewed in toto it doesn't quite slay any dragons. Even though I chide myself about being overly critical and, therefore, bend backwards to listen repeatedly and solicitously, with the hope that I might be just this, too often the concerto simply outstays its forty-three minute, four movement welcome and, over time, grows more tedious and empty than it first seemed.
For example, the first movement Molto Moderato, alone, runs some twenty minutes--- and I have a sneaking suspicion that it just may be the straw that is breaking this concerto's back. After a lengthy orchestral introduction of promising lyricism, the violin enters at just after three minutes, gentle and flowing above a bass pizzacato, also quite promising, and remains musing for a short period until the orchestra returns to silence the soloist with a rapturous new melody. All this is wonderful, no problem, until the violin intrusively returns with a scratchy cadenza of this melody--- most annoying--- and soon the orchestra and violin combine (at about the seven minute mark) and proceed for the next thirteen minutes to ramble and meander all over the place. This, for me, pulls the movement apart and becomes increasingly frustrating. The good ideas Dyson presents soon lack cohesion, a force sorely needed here for a movement this long, obviously, and quickly become scattered.
The Vivace second movement is bouncy enough but, again, seems at first better than it actually is; it soon loses its slight charm and becomes hackneyed.
Most beautiful of all, and the core of the concerto, is the third movement Poco Andante, which runs over ten minutes. (And it's a wonderful reprieve from the twitchy, herky-jerky Vivace we must endure!) Although, again, rather rambling in nature, this movement does sustain a graceful lyricism throughout. (If only Dyson had distilled the opening Molto Moderato in this fashion!)
The concluding Allegro (6:58) is jovial and spirited but, too, just misses the mark. High energy level is no substitute for melodic invention and, coupled with an aimless twittering about, this movement loses focus, as well.
THE CHILDREN'S SUITE (1920) is a four movement affair lasting some nineteen minutes, most memorable for the first two, both charming and nostalgic. The concluding two simply seem like toss off pieces .
No complaints about soloist Mordkovitch (in the concerto) or the City Of London Sinfonia under Hickox. Chandos, as well, provides a warm sound, full and rich.
[Running time: 62:27]