GORDON CROSSE (b.1937): Elegy for Small Orchestrra, Op. 1 (BBC Symphony Orchestra; Norman Del Mar. broadcast Sept. 9, 1965), Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 8 (Budapest Symphony Orchestra; György Lehel. broad. July 3, 1968), Concertino for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Viola, Op. 15 (Melos Ensemble. broad. Oct. 26, 1965), Violin Concerto No. 2, Op. 26 (Manoug Parikian [violin], BBC SO; Colin Davis. broad. Sept. 7, 1970).
Catalogue Number: 06S072
Description: Crosse has pursued his own path throughout his career with curmudgeonly persistence, not unlike Havergal Brian (with whose music he has little in common). This led him to give up composing for over a decade, out of dissatisfaction with the climate of the music world in the 1990s. Technique is important to him; the music is meticulously crafted in precise forms from mediæval times up to and including serialism, though never slavishly adhering to any particular 'system'. It is fair to say that his music does not set out to ingratiate, but it is highly original and potently expressive. The works on this disc are from the 1960s, when he was still forming his personal idiom, and they culminate in the work in which he arguably did so, the tough, tautly argued, large-scale Violin Concerto No.2 of 1969. The work is in two contrasting movements. The first is predominantly reflective, containing many moments of real beauty, and consists of three elaborated and increasingly expanded repetitions of a tripartite structure, the central part of which features a cantus firmus which is revealed at the end of the work to have been borrowed from Ockeghem. The second movement is much more dramatic, and is intricately linked to the material and structure of the first. Each of its sections rise to a powerful climax, grandiose and very tonal, finally subverted by a cheeky parody in the woodwinds, as though to say 'but of course, I'm far too modern for this kind of stuff'. The shorter works display the composer's fondness for tonal harmony implied by serial technique, early music in the Concerto and the diverting Concertino, and his distinctive, rather thorny but attractive harmonic sense and lyrical gift, throughout.