PHILIP SAWYERS (b.1951): Violin Concerto, Concerto for Trumpet, Strings and Timpani, The Valley of Vision - Elegiac Rhapsody for Trumpet and Strings.
Catalogue Number: 10U066
Reference: NI 6374
Description: As in the muscular, predominantly neo-romantic symphonies we offered previously (10T007), these recent concertante and orchestral works reveal a composer of seriousness of purpose and emotional depth, who draws on a wide range of techniques to produce accessible, tonal works of considerable power and impact. Frivolous showmanship seems to be anathema to Sawyers, even when writing a stunning virtuoso concerto for his own instrument, the violin. The concerto begins calmly, even nonchalantly, but within minutes more turbulent emotions surface, and the initially affable, if lively, discourse between soloist and orchestra becomes robustly combative. As in the symphonies, Sawyers is not averse to using note-rows to construct his themes, but this stays firmly in the composer's workshop, and the result sounds thoroughly tonal. The second movement opens in a mood of calm melancholy, but soon transitions into a more active section, again leading to an abrupt climax. This process repeats, each successive climax gaining in momentum and vehemence. The finale is energetic; described by the composer as 'light-hearted' it is nevertheless muscular, rambunctious and direct throughout. The double concerto, as suggested by its powerful solo instruments, is similarly extrovert, with a tense, dramatic opening movement, a lyrical slow movement with distinct echoes of Mahler in abschied mood, and a rhythmically vital and energetic finale. The Valley of Visions is a kind of extended tone poem in five sections, representing the composer's personal responses - which at times seem to have been quite passionate! - to the Blake-inspired, otherworldly landscapes of Samuel Palmer, depicting parts of southern England that Sawyers knows well. The very tonal, somber Rhapsody was written in memory of John McCabe. Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin), Simon Desbrulais (trumpet), English Symphony Orchestra, English String Orchestra; Kenneth Woods.