“An Eventful Morning in East London: 21st C Violin Concertos” with Harriet Mackenzie, Retorica Duo, Philippa Mo and Kenneth Woods, conductor on Nimbus Records has just received the Recording of the Month accolade from MusicWeb International. Fantastic new concerti by Deborah Pritchard, Emily Doolittle, Rob Fokkens, Paul Patterson and David Matthews.
In summary, this is certainly one of my discs of the year. Performances and recording are first-class throughout… But if you limit your new music listening to one piece this year, I urge you to make it Deborah Pritchard’s “Wall of Water”..There is a completeness, a confidence, an honesty and a consistent lyrical beauty that has moved me again and again. These qualities all emerge in Harriet Mackenzie’s utterly magisterial performance. There is little evidence of a composer finding her feet – we have a truly ‘grown-up’ concerto, in a perfectly proportioned slow-fast-slow arch…[Fokkens’] piece synthesises some stratospherically high violin writing, the “Dies Irae” and some distinctive African flavours and crams a great deal into its thirteen minute duration, which absolutely flies by.It creates a unique and attractive atmosphere and is blessed by another fabulous performance by Mackenzie and the full English Symphony Orchestra on this occasion, under Kenneth Woods’ assured baton…David Matthews’ “Romanza” dates from 2012 and is a short concertante work employing a splendid waltz in the central section – a real earworm I have found hard to remove! The spirit of Mahler is never far away and as always Matthews’ fastidious orchestration is notable throughout…Allusions” is certainly not a derivative work, however – it is beautifully written and tremendous fun. Emily Doolittle’s falling still is… an elegiac nature piece in the same line as “A Lark Ascending” and although it is slower and much shorter it is certainly affecting and beautiful ” Read the full review here