Cello Concerto/Symphonic Studi
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|1. Symphonic Studies - RNSO/David Lloyd-Jones|
|2. Ob Con: Maestoso - Allegro - Stephane Rancourt|
|3. Ob Con: Allegretto Con Morbidezza - Stephane Rancourt|
|4. Ob Con: Vivace - Stephane Rancourt|
|5. Vc Con: Allegro Lirico (Quasi Vars) - Alexander Baillie|
|6. Vc Con: Mesto - Alexander Baillie|
|7. Vc Con: Allegro - Vivace - Alexander Baillie|
The composer Alan Rawsthorne (1905-1971) trained as a dentist before he turned to music, and there is something in his output which reminds me of surgery. Anguish, sorrow and relief infuse his works of which three are represented here. The best of them is the Symphonic Studies of 1939 which was his first big international success. Here the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under David Lloyd-Jones grinds out its whining, drooping, chromatic theme in a one-movement sequence of variations which are almost filmic in their abruptness and colour. The Oboe Concerto of 1947 is a more modest work exploiting the plaintive and moody tone of the instrument until the last movement which is as improbably light-hearted as a dose of laughing-gas. Soloist Stéphane Rancourt plays with prominent exuberance. The Cello Concerto of 1966 is the least appealing work although it is given star billing on the CD cover. Gloom pervades the first movement, a sinister ticking motif the second and a somewhat ponderous and elderly tread the finale. Soloist Alexander Baillie does his best against heavy odds. His cadenza is poetic until the triangle enters ringing like a quiz show bell telling him he has run out of time. --Rick Jones
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I am a little less sure about the oboe concerto (but then again I am usually disappointed when great composers turn to the wind concerto medium - Nielsen being the obvious exception). It is surely enjoyable and varied and deeply felt, and I find no faults with Rancourt's performance. The cello concerto is a stronger work, even though it (as opposed to the oboe concerto) feels a little grey. Fortunately, it receives a superb reading from Baillie, with distinguished orchestral accompaniment. Nothing to complain about with the sound quality, either. Recommended.