The Strad issue
Thomas Gould (violin) Paul Arden-Taylor (oboe/cor anglais/recorder) Leslie Craven (clarinet) Celia Birkinshaw (bassoon) Emerald Concert Orchestra/Christopher Ball
The work of principal interest for readers in this fine collection of works by the English composer Christopher Ball (b.1936) is the Violin Concerto. It is unashamedly melodic and tonal in impulse, and the influence of English and Celtic folksong is never far away. Imagine the Vaughan Williams of Greensleeves and The Lark Ascending (rather than, say, the Violin Sonata or Concerto accademico) and you won’t be terribly far away from this music’s alluring sound world.
Cast in three movements and magically scored, the opening Allegro moderato soars aloft on gentle air currents of modal lyricism. Following a meditative Largo, the high-spirited finale recalls a session of lively folk-fiddling. Thomas Gould, one of the London Evening Standard’s ‘Rising Stars’ of 2008, makes a ravishing sound on a 1754 Gagliano, sustaining the concerto’s melodic lines with a noble assurance and heart-warming intensity that compels throughout. The warm yet detailed engineering creates an ideally gentle ambience for these beautifully crafted scores.