Martyn Brabbins / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Chisolm: Violin Concerto; Dance Suite for Orchestra and Piano; Preludes from the True Edge of the Great World

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

The works of Scottish composer Erik Chisholm have been revived in several recordings in the 2010s, including a pair on Hyperion devoted to the composer's concertos. All are well worth rediscovery, with Bartók an influence, but never an overwhelming one throughout. Chisholm's work has been divided into Scottish, neoclassic, and Hindustani periods, accurate for the Piano Concerto No. 2 ("Hindustani") recorded on the companion Hyperion album by pianist Danny Driver. Here, the periods seem to overlap a bit, but that's even better: Chisholm was an eclectic like few other composers in the school-driven, middle 20th century. The Violin Concerto contains Indian influences and themes, but it is animated by a wholly original use of the Baroque passacaglia form: the passacaglia serves as a harmonic base, emerges in new forms as thematic material, and can be twisted into various shapes as the individual movements demand. It's a fascinating work, but for the limited realm of the sample try instead the thoroughly enjoyable "Reel" finale of the Dance Suite for orchestra of 1932, which might be considered both "Scottish" and "neoclassical." The ubiquitous Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra throw themselves enthusiastically into this music, as if overjoyed to give it the second chance so long denied by modernist orthodoxy.

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