While the list of great British concerted works for violin and orchestra is long and distinguished -- Elgar, Walton, and Britten's concertos along with Vaughan Williams' one-movement The Lark Ascending -- the list of great British concerted works for viola and orchestra is nearly as long and nearly as distinguished. In addition to the concertos by Walton and Rubbra, there are the five one-movement works on this disc appropriately called British Viola Music. Played with passionate commitment by violist Sarah-Jane Bradley accompanied with ardent dedication by the Orchestra Nova under George Vass, this disc includes Gustav Holst's serene Lyric Movement from 1933, William Alwyn's tranquil Pastoral Fantasia from 1939, John McCabe's harrowing Concerto Funebre from 1962 (but virtually unknown until this recording), Elizabeth Maconchy's atmospheric Romance from 1979, and David Matthews' haunting Winter Remembered from 2002. Known to international audiences from her recordings with the Leopold String Trio on Hyperion and the Sorrel Quartet on Chandos, Bradley makes her recorded debut as a soloist with this disc -- and scores a hit. Her husky tone, sweet intonation, and unswerving devotion make each work as persuasive as possible and supported with strength and sensitivity by Vass and the Orchestra Nova, this disc will no doubt advance her career as it will no doubt advance the standing of these excellent but lesser known works. Dutton's 2006 digital sound is lush, deep, and detailed.
British Viola Music Review
by James Leonard