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Dyson: Violin Concerto; Children's Suite

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 20, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

This is another release in Chandos's series of the music of George Dyson (1883-1964). Dyson was of Vaughan Williams's generation but seemed to have one foot in the 19th century. This is due to the fact that Charles Villiers Stanford, his teacher, emphasized strong melodies and themes. In Dyson's Violin Concerto (of 1942) the orchestra has unusually wide role; it's almost a symphony showcasing the violin. In fact, in the opening movement, the violin fairly sneaks up on the listener and remains throughout carefully framed by the orchestra. Dyson's Children's Suite after Walter de la Mare (of 1924) is here its first recording. --Paul Cook

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Violin Concerto: Molto Moderato
  2. Violin Concerto: Vivace
  3. Violin Concerto: Poco Andante
  4. Violin Concerto: Allegro Ma Non Troppo
  5. Children's Suite After Walter De La Mare: I. Leggiero
  6. Children's Suite After Walter De La Mare: II. Pastoral: Tranquillo
  7. Children's Suite After Walter De La Mare: III. March: Alla Marcia
  8. Children's Suite After Walter De La Mare: IV. Whirlgig: Di Ballo

Product Details

  • Performer: Lydia Mordkovitch
  • Orchestra: City of London Sinfonia
  • Conductor: Richard Hickox
  • Composer: George Dyson
  • Audio CD (June 20, 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B000000AWX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,852 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Gast on June 6, 2003
Dyson's Violin Concerto can easily hold its own with any similar work in the standard repertoire. It is rapturous, loving and beautifully crafted. Complaints that Dyson lacks real substance and staying power are baffling. In fact, the concerto takes on greater depth with each listening. The sheer integrity, intelligence and depth of Dyson's art is represented here. He's a composer without artifice -- one who simply and effectively conveys the sincerest expression of human yearning. In short, a Romantic lost in a world of Angst and bitterness. The Children's Suite is a delightful make-weight of such extraordinary skill and understated inspiration that some may completely miss its obvious charm. Performances from all on this disc are nothing short of world-class. The engineering is excellent. Give it a try and be surprised and how great this man's music is.
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George Dyson is a largely forgotten British composer (1883-1964). I bought this recording of his Violin Concerto a long time ago on the strength of the concerto's infectious Vivace which I had heard on a sampler. However, when I explored the whole piece I was disappointed and as a result the CD has seen very little rotation.

However I am happy to report that revisiting the concerto made me see it in a different light. Sure, it's a very long work. At just under 45 minutes one can easily say it has symphonic ambitions. The opening Molto moderato only takes a full 20 minutes. But having listened to it numerous times now, I feel the work doesn't outstay its welcome. Dyson's musical language is conservative, to put it midly. He was a pupil of Charles Villiers Stanford and on account of this concerto I would say Dyson's idiom remains within the compass of a traditionalist but tasteful late 19th century style.

The concerto starts with a dramatic flourish: a marvelous, noble, almost tragic theme in full orchestral garb that, remarkably enough, disappears from view in the remainder of the piece (I may not have recognised it, of course). It takes a full 3 minutes for the soloist to appear with a distinctive theme of an understated, hymnic character. The movement comes across as darkly lyrical and very rhapsodic. In that sense it reminds me of Othmar Schoeck's Violin Concerto (who composed it 4 decades earlier) but sadly Dyson does not quite match the exquisite, bittersweet ruminations of his Swiss colleague. However, the play of light and shadow in this expansive meditation entices. There are occasional echoes of Bax, Vaughan Williams and Delius. Effortlessly the mental eye wanders over expansive, hospitable landscapes. The Vivace is a very accomplished, folksy scherzo, almost a jig.
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For someone of my generation it is hard to imagine how the people of Britain must have felt during the depths of 1941. London and the great cities were smouldering ruins and the whole of Europe was under Hitler's Nazi domination. It must have seemed pretty bleak indeed and Dyson's Violin Concerto, which was composed at this time is remarkable for its gentle, heart easing tones as well as its musicality. The genre of Violin Concertos had seen a revival with British composers in the 1930's with Bax and Moeran, among others, penning substantial pieces in this form. Dyson's brooding orchestral opening is not apocalyptic but pensive. It is the mood of one who asks where their life is going rather than the Berg Violin Concerto's tale of heartache due to loss. The cadenza when it comes is sweet and caressing, like a breeze of a summer morning. Dyson uses a motiff from his 'Canterbury Pilgrims', 'Now let us ride' in the scherzo and sets a scene of a fast dance or reel, a folkish but not folksong derivation. The slow movement is the heart of the work, a gentle, kind melody which is given full decoration and examination by the soloist. The finale was called by one commentator 'thoughts on the sunny south' and is a dance-like movement which is full of good humour and high spirits. The work shares something of the optimism of Moeran's more reknowned Violin Concerto rather than Bax's more gritty offering and would be a welcome item on any concert program which needs a bit of 'jollying up' but with substance and not with a mere caprice. The other item 'Children's Suite' is a four movement suite for full orchestra evoking a 1920's nursery atmosphere.Read more ›
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There can be no doubt that Sir George's Violin Concerto of 1941 is a work of quality with moments of grace, grandeur and melodic beauty, but viewed in toto it doesn't quite slay any dragons. Even though I chide myself about being overly critical and, therefore, bend backwards to listen repeatedly and solicitously, with the hope that I might be just this, too often the concerto simply outstays its forty-three minute, four movement welcome and, over time, grows more tedious and empty than it first seemed.

For example, the first movement Molto Moderato, alone, runs some twenty minutes--- and I have a sneaking suspicion that it just may be the straw that is breaking this concerto's back. After a lengthy orchestral introduction of promising lyricism, the violin enters at just after three minutes, gentle and flowing above a bass pizzacato, also quite promising, and remains musing for a short period until the orchestra returns to silence the soloist with a rapturous new melody. All this is wonderful, no problem, until the violin intrusively returns with a scratchy cadenza of this melody--- most annoying--- and soon the orchestra and violin combine (at about the seven minute mark) and proceed for the next thirteen minutes to ramble and meander all over the place. This, for me, pulls the movement apart and becomes increasingly frustrating. The good ideas Dyson presents soon lack cohesion, a force sorely needed here for a movement this long, obviously, and quickly become scattered.

The Vivace second movement is bouncy enough but, again, seems at first better than it actually is; it soon loses its slight charm and becomes hackneyed.

Most beautiful of all, and the core of the concerto, is the third movement Poco Andante, which runs over ten minutes.
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