DEBORAH PRITCHARD (b.1977): Violin Concerto “Wall of Water”, PAUL PATTERSON (b.1947): Allusions for 2 Violins and Strings (Philippa Mo [second violin]), ROBERT FOKKENS (b.1975): Violin Concerto “An Eventful Morning Near East London”, DAVID MATTHEWS (b.1943): Romanz for Violin and Strings, EMILY DOOLITTLE (b.1972): falling still for Violin and Strings.
Catalogue Number: 07T076
Reference: NI 6295
Description: Five recent concertante works for violin with almost nothing in common other than the fact that the composers live and work in the UK. All are approachable and based in tonality (more or less, in one case). Patterson's 'allusions' are to three operatic scenes (by Verdi and Mozart), though the title is appropriate as they are by no means transcriptive in nature, and only fleetingly does any real quotation occur. The studies of the figures and situations depicted are characterful and clever, and the work is a showpiece for the violin duo. Pritchard's composition is often based in her synæsthesia and her works are often responses to visual artworks, as here. The paintings in question are Maggi Hambling's monumental, powerfully dynamic wave canvases, boiling with kinetic energy; the only comparison in British art might be C.R.W Nevinson's looming and crashing seascapes, and even Hokusai's 'Great Wave' seems static by comparison. Pritchard's concerto is an emotional, atmospheric response rather than a depiction of the image, with fluid violin textures over an ominous pedal out of the depths in the opening section, the action and intensity of the brush-strokes evoked in the second part, and an awed contemplation of the scale and majesty of the image in the 'finale'. Matthews' work is characteristically tonal and neo-romantic, with the kind of highly original string writing that we've seen in his solo and chamber works. A passionate opening is unexpectedly superseded by an elegant Viennese waltz. Fokkens' piece is the most 'modern', drawing on a variety of styles, including those of the composer's native South Africa (which is the location of the East London of the title, rather than the area of England). A polystylistic collage, containing some fiendishly difficult solo and ensemble writing and tricky cross-rhythms (Ronald Stevenson has written of the rhythmic complexity of South African native drumming, far surpassing anything in The Rite of Spring, and this may be the source of this aspect of Fokkens' style), the work seems to depict a performance 'event' - what used to be called a 'happening' - in a riotous diversion that includes some sinister intrusions of the Dies irae. Doolittle's Falling Still is inspired by nature, the violin weaving a supple, flexible 'vocal' line against a slowly changing chord sequence like a background of gentle wind and waves. Harriet Mackenzie (violin), English String Orchestra, English Symphony Orchestra (Fokkens); Kenneth Woods.