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Sainsbury and Wood: Violin Concertos

Violin Concertos
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    Romanticism has proved more durable than seemed possible a half-century ago, when the brutal violence and icy pointillism of Pierre Boulez were all the rage and Samuel Barber was considered as passé as ornate Victorian furniture. But romantic music, with its gorgeous melody, rhapsodic expansiveness, sumptuous orchestration, and ardent emotion— though it never really left—is not only back, it’s back in style. Witness the 1989 Violin Concerto of Englishman Lionel Sainsbury (born 1958). The idiom is that of Dvorak and Elgar, gently updated by Walton. Its discmate, though written sixty years earlier, the 1928 Concerto in A Minor by Haydn Wood, is only just a bit more old-fashioned. Both are skillfully crafted and ample in proportions, with lots of passion, solo display, and melodic flights that take the violin soaring above the orchestral ferment below. This is music that will make you breathe deeper and remember with fond regret the misspent days of your long-ago youth. Dutton’s is the first recording of both concertos, and it’s hard to see how these glorious performances (with stellar playing by Lorraine McAslan) and the vivid, spacious, natural sonics could be bettered. 

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