Friday, January 27, 2017

Edmund Rubbra - Violin Concerto; Improvisations (Krysia Osostowicz)


Composer: Edmund Rubbra
  1. Improvisation for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 89
  2. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Gilles Farnaby, Op. 50: I. Farnaby's Conceit
  3. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Gilles Farnaby, Op. 50: II. His Dreame
  4. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Gilles Farnaby, Op. 50: III. His Humour
  5. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Gilles Farnaby, Op. 50: IV. Loth to Depart
  6. Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Gilles Farnaby, Op. 50: V. Tell me, Daphne
  7. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 103: I. Allegro
  8. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 103: II. Poema (Lento ma non troppo)
  9. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 103: III. Allegro giocoso

Krysia Osostowicz, violin
Ulster Orchestra
Takuo Yuasa, conductor

Date: 2005
Label: Naxos



Osostowicz has the measure of Rubbra’s rewarding inspiration

The appearance of this new recording of Rubbra’s Violin Concerto is both welcome and timely, given that previous versions from Carl Pini and Tasmin Little – Unicorn-Kanchana (1/87) and Conifer Classics (10/94) respectively – are languishing in the vaults. Composed in 1959, it’s one of Rubbra’s most compelling large-scale offerings, comprising a masterly opening Allegro that finds lyrical intensity and organic growth in blissful accord, a ravishing central ‘Poema’ (whose gentle rapture harks back to the ‘Canto’ slow movement of the Sixth Symphony from 1954) and a wonderfully earthy finale, full of bracing vigour and rhythmic élan. The 1956 Improvisation for violin and orchestra also repays close inspection, a 12-and-a-half-minute essay of notable economy of thought and expressive variety that salvages material from an earlier Fantasia for violin and orchestra from the mid-1930s.

Not only is Krysia Osostowicz thoroughly steeped in the idiom (as a solo performer, leader of the Dante Quartet and member of the Endymion Ensemble, she has contributed with great distinction to Dutton Epoch’s invaluable Rubbra series) but she plays with great spirit and beauty of tone and is unfazed by any technical hurdles. No grumbles with the sensitive reading of the Improvisation, in which Osostowicz generates a stimulating rapport with Takuo Yuasa and the Ulster Orchestra. However, in the Concerto I would have preferred a touch less reserve and more in the way of songful joy from her collaborators – not to mention a greater sense of impetus in the first movement. Explicit, if slightly clinical sound.

Fortunately, the 1946 Improvisations on Virginal Pieces by Giles Farnaby show conductor and orchestra in more spontaneous, personable form, though perhaps Hans-Hubert Schönzeler’s 1976 world premiere recording with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta conveys that crucial bit extra grace and poignancy. It’s a most beguiling, concise score.

While I hope that Sony/BMG will get round to reissuing the authoritative Little/RPO/Handley account of the Concerto, this remains a very likeable and useful disc overall.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
MusicWeb International  RECORDING OF THE MONTH


Edmund Rubbra (23 May 1901 – 14 February 1986) was a British composer. He composed both instrumental and vocal works for soloists, chamber groups and full choruses and orchestras. He was greatly esteemed by fellow musicians and was at the peak of his fame in the mid-20th century. The most famous of his pieces are his eleven symphonies. Jis output as a whole is less celebrated today than would have been expected from its sheer merit and from his early popularity. As an author, Rubbra wrote numerous articles during his lifetime, about both his own music and that of others.


Krysia Osostowicz (born 1960) is a Polish-English violinist soloist and chamber musician. After studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Cambridge University, she went to Salzburg to train with Sándor Végh. She has performed as a recitalist and a concerto soloist throughout Europe. She was a member of the piano quartet Domus (1985-1995). In 1995, she became founder and first violinist of the Dante Quartet. Krysia is also principal violinist of Endymion Ensemble.


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