Reviews - 2013
Music Web International
Percy Grainger’s obsessive collecting of scores and other composers’ memorabilia and ephemera has paid dividends. The resulting archive is now held by the University of Melbourne. While it has been nowhere near as rewarding to enterprising listeners as the remarkable assemblage of scores and parts held by the Edwin A Fleisher collection it is beginning to yield up its treasures. We can hope for more but here are three works that we would not have had but for that archive.
There’s quite a bit of reconstructive work behind the present CD its anthology of rare early Scott. The revisions, realisations and completions are by Martin Yates and the editing of the solo cello part is by Raphael Wallfisch. Yates is no stranger to such projects as we know from his Moeran Symphony No. 2 and the recently issued Bax symphony in F.
Listening to the present disc we gain some impression of the sounds Cyril Scott was making during his sensationally glamorous early twenties. These are works which previously were just titles and passing references in the often frustratingly unspecific autobiography Bone of Contention and in the early histories of The Proms and the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Chandos has issued four ample and gorgeous CDs with a swathe of Scott’s mature orchestral music. Only ‘their’ Second Symphony is anything like as early as the Dutton works. The present disc stands as an invaluable complement to that series with its distinctive oblique lyricism and expressionist exotic swooning. Add to that the Ogdon/Herrmann disc of Scott’s numbered piano concertos on Lyrita, a sub-par but listenable Marco Polo collection from Peter Marchbank (8.223485), the Harpsichord Concerto on Cameo Classics (C9041CD) and a nice account of the Oboe Concerto, also on Dutton.
The Pélleas and Mélisanda overture runs to 17 minutes so has the dimensions of a tone poem - as Lewis Foreman points out in his liner-note. The music is irradiated with light - a translucent Delian quality is abroad. About two-thirds of the way in the music briefly becomes more animated. It ends in brooding and angry morning light. Surely we will not have to wait all that long for Scott's other two Maeterlinck-based overtures:Princesse Maleine and Aglavaine et Sélysette.
The language of the three-movement Piano Concertodoes not seem all that detached from that of the 1915 First Piano Concerto. There is the same hieratic tone and impulsively spontaneous and eruptive-mystic demeanour. Just occasionally one glimpses Rachmaninov but nowhere near as often as you might guess. The liquid arpeggiation and oriental accents of the Intermezzo are memorable. The finale is more grandly demonstrative and the ideas are good and indelible. That said, this movement sits awkwardly with the very distinctive preceding movements. The whole thing is however convincingly carried off by Peter Donohoe and Yates. The ending is coruscatingly exultant, complete with a scree of piano notes and some heroic brass calls.
The 20-minute Cello Concerto is to a Delian specification although it does end with an Allegro rather than a dreamy Lento. Raphael Wallfisch is an inspired and completely dependable guide through a work that, like the piano concerto, belies its early date. The music has a touching fullness and heart-felt sensitivity.
Here are three strikingly individual works from the young Cyril Scott, each with its own heat signature and distinctive character - by no means juvenilia.
Rob Barnett - MusicWeb International
Online Review - Classical Lost and Found
First on the program, the original version of Cyril's Overture to Pelleas and MelisandeSpecially edited for this recording by our conductor Martin Yates, it's an enthralling romantic piece that could also be considered a tone poem.
Falling into four arches, the first is a somber ominous meditation that opens with a tragic idea whose first five notes will act as a unifying idea throughout the piece. However, the mood brightens in the lovely passionate second section which may recall the Fauré (1845-1924) and Sibelius (1865-1957) Pelleases (1898 and 1905). A sudden outburst then introduces a brief heroic third arch that ends abruptly, and is followed by the concluding one.
Dutton once again scoops Hyperion’s ongoing "Romantic Piano Concerto" series with the next selection. Sketched in 1900 and apparently abandoned by the composer along with several other works written in his twenties, it's a performing version realized by Maestro Yates (see above) of a youthful piano concerto. Considering Scott's two numbered ones of 1913-4 and 1958, this would be his "No. 0" (see the informative album notes).
In three movements the opening adagio with its massive piano chords over a sinuous string accompanimentbrings Rachmaninov’s (1873-1943) concertos (1900-27) to mind. As it gathers momentum like some giant pendulum, there are hints of a spirited romantic theme finally played by the soloist. A chromatically colorful development with fiery keyboard passages follows, and then subsides ending the movement in a sublime state of repose -- you'll love it!
The intermezzo opens with piano arpeggios and an auburn pastoral theme played successively by oboe and English horn. A rapturous episode having occasional sinister moments follows, and then the movement closes gracefully with a reminder of the opening theme.
The virtuosic vivace finale has the same tunefulness and dazzling keyboard pyrotechnics found in the Moszkowski (1854-1925) and Paderewski (1860-1941) concertos (1898 and 1888). A blazing sonata-rondo begins with the soloist stating a fetching angular theme. This is developed and followed by a more informal melody that oddly enough anticipates some of Shostakovich's (1906-1975) morequirky moments.
After a recap there is another development having frequent fiery passages for the soloist. All this gives way to a thrilling final coda. With a death-defying downward run on the piano it ends this magnificent piano discovery in a meteoric blaze of glory!
The program closes all too soon with another resuscitated gem, the cello concerto of 1902. This predates by thirty-five years what was at one time thought to be Scott's only effort in the genre (1937). Although it's come down to us in more complete form than the previous concerto, it still required some heavy editing on the part of both Maestro Yates and our soloist Raphael Wallfisch to realize this performing version.
In one extended twenty-minute movement generally falling into four spans, the first is a largo with a mysterious, hushed drum-roll opening. The cello soon introduces a drop-dead gorgeous multi-faceted theme that undergoes a transported expansion merging into the next arch.
This is marked quasi-cadenza reflecting its extended length and some substantial support from the tutti. It's one of the most exquisitely rich cantilena-like outpourings you could ever hope to hear, and ends in a hair-raising statement for full orchestra.
This fades into a penultimate andante with a heavenly chromatic development. A transitional passage for the soloist then introduces the final allegro span. Here the thematic material is lighter and provides a respite that precludes the concerto from becoming a romantic quagmire.
The work ends gloriously with brilliant virtuosic passages for the soloist, which, with the orchestra, turns wonderfully nostalgic. It concludes this CD on just the right note, making it one of most outstanding discs of discovery to appear in a long time, and something that belongs in every arch romantic's collection! This CD will undoubtedly be a CLOFO "Best Find" for 2013.
Martin Yates takes on the dual role as conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra (BBCO) for all three works, and "realizer" of the concertos, giving us spectacular accounts of everything. Pianist Peter Donohoe and cellist Raphael Wallfisch deliver striking performances of their respective pieces playing them with stunning virtuosity and total commitment. It's a shame Scott isn't still around to hear how some of his earliest efforts have been turned into a treasure trove for modern day classical collectors.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P130616)