Watkins is one of today’s leading composer-pianists and this album (his second for NMC Recordings) showcases his vibrant, lyrical and impeccably crafted orchestral writing. Both the Flute and Violin Concertos were composed for soloists with whom he already had a close working relationship. Adam Walker is the principal fl autist for the London Symphony Orchestra, who Watkins' describes as having an 'amazing sound and control of his instrument'. The delicate orchestration in the Flute Concerto allows the solo fl ute to take fl ight as it weaves in and out with skittish motifs. Alina Ibragimova is the soloist in the Violin Concerto, premiered at the BBC Proms in 2010. The piece harnesses Ibragimova’s dynamic and intense, fi ercely intelligent playing, switching from attacking virtuosity and molten lyricism, often in an instant. The result is dramatic and utterly compelling.In this album's liner notes, Steph Power writes that Watkins has 'long seemed a symphonist in waiting, with a natural affi nity for big-boned yet fi nely-wrought drama'.
Scored for a large orchestra, including triple wind and a raft of percussion, Penderecki’s Piano Concerto, heard here in its 2007 revision first performed by Barry Douglas, renews the composer’s direct involvement with the ‘grand’ concerto tradition that culminated in Rachmaninov and Prokofiev. Its sub-title ‘Resurrection’ refers to the melody based on a chorale of a non-religious character, which gradually make its way into the foreground before emerging with striking power at the work’s climax.
Goffredo Petrassi’s long creative life was marked by ceaseless absorption of ideas and by constant invention. His Flute Concerto is notable for its boldness of design and the surprise of its unorthodox sound world, where instruments rotate in block form. The Piano Concerto is more overtly virtuosic, even showing some influence from Prokofiev. The orchestral suite drawn from the ballet La follia di Orlando (The Madness of Orlando) is often clothed in Petrassi’s experimental orchestral sonorities.
The instrumental concerto occupies a very prominent place in the music of Krzysztof Penderecki. This fact is related to the great life force exhibited by this genre in twentieth century and in contemporary music. It is stimulated by commissions from virtuosos and by audience expectations; also favourable is the composers’ flexibility in approaching the form, whose chief idea continues to be the juxtaposition of the solo instrument and the orchestra. The violin and viola works presented on this CD are not only interesting, concrete realizations of the concertare idea in Penderecki’s music, but also examples of this composer’s sonic language and style in the period of his creativity which Mieczyslaw Tomaszewski called a "time of dialogue with the regained past".
First recordings of two powerful works from the pen of one of our major composers, John McCabe, who is celebrating his sixtieth birthday this year. Of Time and the River (the title is taken from Thomas Wolfe's novel) is actually the published title of McCabe's Fourth Symphony, written in 1993/4 to a commission by the BBC. The Flute Concerto was written for James Galway in 1989/90 and he gave the first performance of it in 1990 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra who commissioned the work. Here it is played by the outstanding young flautist Emily Beynon in her first recording for Hyperion.
"The five-movement Flute Concerto...is in part a Gaelic reverie dedicated to the composer's wife but it also embodies a response to one of those "isolated, individual tragedies which serve to sensitize us to the potential harm that man can do to his fellow." ... The composer has cited the work of the Irish singer Enya in connection with this concerto and it is certainly among the more accessible of his works: there's more clear diatonicism than rabid dissonance and plenty of quietly cathartic spiritual affirmation."