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The final piece on the Naxos program is the most straightforward. Spain is even more in evidence since the Suite is based entirely on Catalan melodies and rhythms. Britten and Berkeley agreed to collaborate on its composition after watching folk dancers while visiting Barcelona together. The final movement, which Berkeley attributed primarily to Britten, is the catchiest [listen -- track 8, 1:11-2:21].

This is an interesting, well-chosen program with outstanding performances. The pieces framing the concerto are worthwhile and seldom recorded, and if I had to pick just one version of the concerto, this would be it. McAslan combines beauty with a bitter strength in a balance that sounds exactly right. Bedford's accompaniment is equally effective. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 4 January 2006 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


Britten: Violin Concerto

8.557198 DDD Stereo REISSUE 58'19" 1990 Collins Classics; 2005 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Lorraine McAslan, violin (Op 15); English Chamber Orchestra; Steuart Bedford, conductor

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): Overture 'Canadian Carnival' Op 19; Violin Concerto Op 15; Britten and Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989): Mont Juic: Suite of Catalan Dances Op 9 (Berkeley: Andante maestoso, Op 9 No 1; Berkeley: Allegro grazioso, Op 9 No 2; Britten: Lament: Andante moderato, Op 12 No 1; Britten: Allegro molto, Op 12 No 2)


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