The Strad Issue: January 2006
Musicians: Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox (conductor)
Composer: Bliss

Arthur Bliss’s Violin Concerto, written for Alfredo Campoli, is conceived in the Romantic and heroic vein typical of Bliss’s music. Lydia Mordkovitch proves an ideal, passionate advocate, stamping her personality and flair from the outset. The initial sunny melody yields to fast-moving semiquaver passages before a gorgeous, probing slow tune takes over, opening onto a passionate early cadenza.

The central Scherzo is skilfully handled, infused with something of a Russian flavour, with the gallivanting soloist deftly leading the way, even in interspersed gentler passages. The launch to the finale, with violin and harp and then flute, opens the door to some of the most tender, beguiling music Bliss ever composed, all exquisitely managed by Mordkovitch, including the superbly alluring cadenza.

The Colour Symphony is finely characterised by Hickox, especially the two slow movements, ‘Purple’ and ‘Blue’, which draw sumptuous playing from the orchestral strings. Chandos creates a warm, reverberant ambience wholly in keeping with this vital and vibrant music.

Roderic Dunnett