“Rawsthorne enthusiasts should waste no time in snapping up this disc, containing music-making of perceptive dedication and impressive polish.
He completed his First Violin Concerto in 1947, dedicating the score to Walton (there's a quotation from Belshazzar'sFeast just before the end). Cast in just two movements, it's a lyrically affecting creation that weaves a spell, especially in a performance as dignified and consistently purposeful as this. However, the revelation comes with the Second Concerto of 1956.
Rebecca Hirsch and Lionel Friend locate a deceptive urgency and symphonic thrust in the opening Allegretto that genuinely compel. If anything, the succeeding Poco lento wears an even more anguished, nervy demeanour, the music's questing mood very well conveyed. By contrast, the finale proceeds in serene, almost carefree fashion, its witty coda forming a delightfully unbuttoned conclusion to a striking, much-underrated work. As a curtain-raiser Naxos gives us the fantasy overture Cortèges.
Commissioned by the BBC and premiered at the 1945 Proms by the LSO under Basil Cameron, it's a well-wrought essay, pitting an eloquent Adagio processional as against an irrepressible Allegro molto vivace tarantella. The composer develops his material with customary skill, and Friend draws a committed and alert response from the BBC Scottish SO. Boasting a spacious, bright and admirably balanced sound picture (no attempt to spotlight the soloist), here's an enormously rewarding issue and a bargain of the first order.”