ARTHUR BENJAMIN (1893-1960): Violin Concerto, Romantic Fantasy for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, Elegy, Waltz and Toccata for Viola and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01N005
Label: Dutton Epoch
Reference: CDLX 7279
Description: World Premiere Recording of the 1931 violin concerto, a 26-minute work in three-section, single-movement form. The concerto is immediately notable for its profusion of material, as the notes put it "eight initial themes and four motifs" in the first movement alone which are layered and subjected to extensive contrapuntal treatment with an orchestral accompaniment that is particularly lush. Immediately communicative and attractive to the ear, its complexity repays multiple hearings. Five years later, the Romantic Fantasy (recorded by Heifetz in 1942 and also on an Arte Nova CD in a German recording around a decade ago) shows the shift in orchestral accompaniment from strings to brass and winds which Benjamin had learned from film scoring; this whole work sounds like a continuously unfolding story. The Elegy, Waltz and Toccata (1943), originally a Viola Sonata, was written in Canada right after Benjamin's symphony and it shares that work's darker sentiments, its first movement particularly somber. This is the work's first recording in its orchestral guise. Lorraine McAslan (violin), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; John Gibbons.