Violinist Clare Howick has struck a rich vein with her recordings of neglected British music of the 20th century, and never richer than here: all three of these works are recorded world premieres, and all are worth hearing. The opening Violin Concerto No. 2 ("Serenade") of Paul Patterson is a contemporary piece written for Howick herself; it's a bright essay in violin and trumpet. The real winner here is the Concerto for violin and small orchestra, Op. 12, of Kenneth Leighton, a taut, tense set of four movements that seems to be leading up to a symphonic finale, but instead dissolves into gloom as Shostakovich might have. The structure of this work is so accomplished that one cannot help but be surprised that no one has recorded it before. The reason seems to be that the concerto was something of a student work, composed during Leighton's scholarship trip to Italy, but it is a fully mature piece. Shostakovich also figures as an influence in the Concerto for violin and string orchestra of Gordon Jacob, from 1953, especially in the last movement. Howick is more than a dutiful interpreter of these pieces; she has a fine sustained tone in all the slow movements, and you might sample the Andante espressivo of the Jacob concerto for a taste of her big-voiced Stradivarius. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Grant Llewellyn provides comfortable idiomatic support for a recording that may well expand the violin concerto repertory.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Violin Concerto No. 2 ('Serenade')|
|Concerto for Violin and Small Orchestra, Op. 12|
|Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra|