Lorraine McAslan trained initially at London’s Royal Academy as a pupil of David Martin (whose early studies were with Kathleen Parlow in Canada) and then, on the recommendation of Isaac Stern, moved to New York at seventeen to study with Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School. Her European début was with the Bern Symphony Orchestra on live radio and she has broadcast and appeared on television many times in Britain. McAslan’s discography covers a range of standard repertory, although she is known as a specialist in music by British composers. Her first recording was of the Elgar and Walton Sonatas, followed by a highly acclaimed Britten Violin Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra. Another album features less frequently played composers of the 1930s and includes concertos by York Bowen, Coleridge-Taylor, Arnell, Haydn Wood, and Thomas Pitfield. McAslan teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and in 2006 succeeded Laurence Jackson as first violin in the Maggini Quartet.
McAslan’s playing is distinguished by a slightly more conservative stylistic approach than that of many of her generation. Thus, there is a fairly intense vibrato (the device has had rather more subtle and slight applications by the younger generation of current players) and indeed some portamento. More importantly, there is a consciously emotive approach to the material, which makes her a compelling advocate of the more unusual and less well-known repertory for which she is recognised. Accordingly, her 2010 Alwyn Concerto is an enticing prospect of considerable warmth and intensity: praise is due for resurrecting a work rejected by the BBC in spite of Henry Wood’s campaign to have it premièred at the 1943 Proms. Coleridge-Taylor’s Legend (2007) is played with ardour and proves to be a very workmanlike essay in its genre. Clarke’s Violin Sonata in D (2003) is not so well known as the (arguably) finer Viola Sonata, but here too McAslan plays with evident passion, which also characterises her Britten Concerto from 1989 (the earliest of her recordings selected here). Inclusion of Hofmann’s Concerto in B flat (1997) testifies to her capabilities in classical repertory where she displays an approach broadly typical of modern players, with short articulations, stable tempi, and regular if slightly reigned-in vibrato. All these recordings amply show McAslan’s intent musicianship and well-rounded sound.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)