WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1908-1988): Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 28, Violin Concerto in A, Op. 60, 3 Pastoral Sketches, Op. 10.
Catalogue Number: 08V009
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0526
Description: It is extraordinary - and most regrettable - that a composer of the quality of Wordsworth, who wrote such strong, eloquent music in an admittedly conservative tonal idiom, though with great character and individuality, is only now beginning to receive his due (06T008, 04R007, and now this equally attractive disc). The 1946 Piano Concerto is in a single span, clearly subdivided into sections. It begins with a noble, serious and sad introduction, abruptly supplanted by the first movement proper, a stormy, confrontational Allegro feroce which introduces the thematic material of the work, which is discussed vehemently and passionately by the piano and the orchestra. Led by the soloist, there is a gradual relaxation of tension, returning to the mood of the opening. This leads directly into the slow movement, an unbroken span of beautiful and tranquil, if melancholy, lyricism, its melodies passed around the orchestra, sometimes led by the piano and sometimes by other solo voices within the ensemble. A brief resumption of lively energy leads to the return of the feroce mood of the second section, now more aggressive and warlike than before. An abrupt exchange of salvos between orchestra and piano plays itself out, before once again the piano adopts a conciliatory tone. A series of accompanied piano solos, the solo instrument increasingly assertive, point the way to the large cadenza which revisits themes from earlier in the work. A decade later, the immensely impressive Violin Concerto breathes on an epic, symphonic scale. A darkly looming orchestral opening section introduces a first theme, soon joined in eloquent melodic counterpoint by the violin's extended elaboration of it. This leads to a terse dialogue between soloist and orchestra, and then the process repeats as a lengthy exposition ensues, introducing a number of themes of serious, dark-hued character which are explored with great expressive range and drama. A fugal section based on the first theme reaches a powerful climax after which the music achieves a certain expectant tranquility as the themes are discussed and developed, with many wonderful touches of orchestral color. A short, vigorous coda concludes the movement. The slow movement is based on a melancholy theme first given out by the lower strings. The soloist answers with another extended, softly lamenting theme, and the movement is built on the dialogue between variants of this material, never losing its elegiac character, even when brief climactic storms gather and just as quickly dissipate. The soloist introduces the spirited finale, which ambles around in an easy-going fashion for a while before settling into an increasingly energetic dance with some splendidly colorful percussion effects. The music gradually assumes a more serious tone, leading to the soloist's extended cadenza on themes from throughout the work - incidentally, the only passage in the entire concerto with extended use of double-stopping; while writing an immensely effective virtuoso vehicle, Wordsworth was clearly uninterested in exploring the outer limits of even conventional technique. A return to the dancing mood from earlier brings the piece to a rousing conclusion. The Pastoral Sketches are more serious than the title might suggest; far from being sunny picture-postcards, they celebrate the somber beauty of the British landscape with its rolling expanses and unpredictable moods. The first two are lonely, brooding and autumnal, and the third, Seascape, is a richly painted Romantic storm. Arta Arnicane (piano), Kamila Bydlowska (violin), Liepāja Symphony Orchestra; John Gibbons.