Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

 
Keyword Search
 
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews



 
See latest reviews of other albums...


Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, December 2019

Clare Howick, for whom Patterson wrote his ‘Serenade’ Concerto, performs all three works with superb command, plus a glittering weight of tone surely not only due to the Stradivarius violin lent to her by the Royal Academy of Music for this recording. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra accompanies with freshness and precision. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine Read complete review




Bob Stevenson
MusicWeb International, November 2018

Clare Howick seems to have carved out something of a niche for herself as being a go-to violinist for neglected British violin music and this very well received disc is something of a showcase for her. It has the virtues of excellent and welljudged performances, a decent recording and budget price and it usefully plugs gaps in the catalogue with three world premiere commercial recordings of concertos by English composers that deserve to be better known. What’s not to like? © 2018 MusicWeb International



Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, May 2018

Performances are excellent. The Scots orchestra offers smart, colorful accompaniment with Lewellyn’s tempos adding to the coherence of the works. Ms Howick’s playing is spot on, with good intonation and grateful tone quality. In the Leighton, which demands very long sustained tones, she maintains them without a hitch. Interpretively, she evokes every virtue these pieces have—and their virtues are legion. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Phillip Scott
Fanfare, May 2018

What a thoroughly enjoyable program this is, made up of premiere recordings of three works that are virtually unknown (and completely unknown to the music-loving public at large)—not that anyone would guess that from these performances. Llewellyn and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are as assured and comfortable as they would be were they accompanying the Mendelssohn Concerto, while Clare Howick’s violin positively shines. Technically secure, unfailingly expressive, and with an interest in obscure English repertoire, she is a first-class musician in the line of Lorraine McAslan and Tasmin Little. She does all three works proud. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review



Stephen Barber
MusicWeb International, April 2018

There is a great deal of pleasure to be had from composers who, while they may not count as great, are certainly good. That is true of the three we have here… They all write tuneful and attractive music, with slight modernist tinges, but not so much as to frighten the horses. These are all also premiere recordings.

[Claire Howick] offers impeccable intonation and a lot of fire. I really enjoyed her playing. Grant Llewellyn is an enormously versatile conductor… He does an excellent job with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra… These works may not be world-beaters but they are thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyable and the disc deserves every success. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Bob Stevenson
MusicWeb International, March 2018

Performances throughout are similarly excellent and well-judged. The contributions of the soloist and the orchestra are clear and well-balanced, although I have a slight caveat concerning the recording. This initially struck me as having a slightly veiled acoustic, not a feature I would have associated with the City Halls, Glasgow, judging by several broadcasts from there. That said, the impression is fleeting and one’s ear soon adjusts. This is probably a disc that is better not played through in one sitting because the compositional styles, whilst distinct enough, have sufficient similarities to require more of a break (or a contrast of texture) between them. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Andrew Mellor
Gramophone, March 2018

…Patterson’s piece is the most appealing. The opening movement has something of Martinů’s spirited, kinetic bustle, unperturbed even when it runs into tangled woodwind thickets (the instrumentation, all over the piece, is delicious). I love the final movement’s brisk orchestral unfurling towards the cadenza and the increasing harmonic grind thereafter, heading to the hinterlands of Szymanowski. Clare Howick is often more muscular than she is nostalgic and that’s fine—especially in the slow movement with its own whiff of stale English modality—and her performance tells you the piece was written for her.

…it’s good to hear these pieces in such agile, colourful and committed performances. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Julian Haylock
The Strad, March 2018

All three concertos featured here tend towards expressive concision and distilled lyrical intensity, providing a perfect match for Howick’s narrow-fast-vibratoed agility and soaring, golden-toned cantabile. Paul Patterson’s three-movement concerto (sub-titled ‘Serenade’) was written for Howick as recently as 2013. Behind its generic titles—Toccata, Barcarolle and Valse-Scherzo—lies a dazzling fusion of American-flavoured post-Romanticism and European-style neo-Classicism, that Howick embraces with alacrity, investing the music with a heartfelt vitality that brings it startlingly alive. © 2018 The Strad Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, February 2018

Our soloist here, Clare Howick, specializes in twentieth century, British violin repertoire, and accordingly delivers enthusiastic performances of these works. They come off all the richer for her playing a 1718 Stradivarius loaned to her by the RAM for this production. What’s more, she receives outstanding support from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Welsh conductor Grant Llewellyn. © 2018 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, December 2017

No undiscovered masterpieces here, but extremely professional music which features three major British concertos spanning 70 years. Kenneth Leighton’s Concerto is a work of tensile urgency, scored with great imagination, and the Concerto by Gordon Jacob contains at its heart a threnodic slow movement cast in long, moving paragraphs and accompanied by poetic effects. Written for (and premiered by) the soloist in this recording, Paul Patterson’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (‘Serenade’) is rich in high spirits; songlike, and exuberantly sparkling. Clare Howick performs these works with finesse, and is accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Grant Llewellyn. © 2017 Classical CD Choice



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2017

Three British violin concertos composed over the past sixty years, the emphasis being on the relationship between the soloist and the use of a chamber orchestra. That in no way should be taken that these are scores that lack strength and dramatic content, but it does infer integration where the violin is the first among equals. Indeed Paul Patterson’s concerto, from 2013, is a highly charged work that often calls for technical brilliance from all concerned, the orchestra employing just double woodwind, four brass instruments, timpani, harp and strings. In a modern variant on tonality, and at times moving towards the Shostakovich era, it makes for a hugely attractive score. Written for the soloist on this disc, Clare Howick, it’s three movements, in their own way, provide for a virtuoso outing for the soloist. A gorgeous central Barcarolle—which gives the work its name—is surrounded by very outgoing movements ending in a Valse-Scherzo. The other two works were written in the 1950’s, Kenneth Leighton sounding much more ‘modern’ than Patterson, though it is scored for almost the same sized orchestra. It’s creative thinking comes closer to atonality, with a degree of abrasion in the opening Allegro, before becoming increasingly listener-friendly in the three following movements, the work closing in pure peace and contentment. Making for a very startling contrast comes the vivacious opening to Gordon Jacob’s Concerto. Always gifted in creating memorable thematic material, which is true of this work, the finale is a whirlwind Allegro. Clare Howick is the superb soloist, and, as a link, she is here playing the Stradivarius that Frederick Grinke would have used at the premiere of the Leighton and Jacobs concertos. In every way this is an extremely fine disc with excellent playing from the BBC orchestra conducted by Grant Llewellyn. My disc of the month. © 2017 David’s Review Corner



Records International, December 2017

This is a program that looks like it should be on Dutton Epoch! Patterson’s bright and high-spirited piece was written four years ago for the soloist here and wraps two colorfully virtuosic fast movements around a Barcarolle with a haunting, wistful melody. The other two concertos were premiered in 1953 by Frederick Grinke (whose Stradivarius Howick now plays), the Leighton predominantly dark, edgy and full of nervous energy with a sardonic scherzo and a lento finale which ends in resignation while the Jacob is characteristically brisk and bracing in its neo-classical outer movements which enclose a poetic and beautiful romantically inclined slow movement. Dutton Epoch repertoire but at mid-price! © 2017 Records International



Laurie Niles
Violinist.com, November 2017

The three British concertos featured on this album span fully years, including violin concertos Kenneth Leighton’s Violin Concerto; Gordon Jacob; Paul Patterson’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (Serenade), which was written for and premiered by Howick. Howick is a specialist in twentieth-century British music and her recital album of British violin music by Elgar, Bridge, Delius, Cyril and Scott was released in September 2017. © 2017 Violinist.com



Dean Frey
Music for Several Instruments, November 2017

Clare Howick brings her excellent technique and the big sound of the ‘Maurin’ Stradivarius 1718, on loan from the Royal Academy of Music, to 20th and 21st century music from Britain in this very welcome new disc from Naxos. Paul Patterson wrote his superb 2nd Violin Concerto for Howick in 2013, and this is its first recording. What’s more surprising is that the other two works on the disc are receiving their premiere recordings as well. Gordon Jacob’s Concerto for Violin & Strings, a work that I find extremely interesting and admire more each time I hear it, was written in 1953. I guess when one thinks back to the post-war New Music world it was out of step with its time, but nearly 65 years later it’s fresh and alive. Howick’s playing is completely convincing, in the frame conductor Grant Llewellyn sets up with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s expert playing, not allowing the rhapsodic passages to become sentimental and keeping things moving along smartly. Similarly, the Kenneth Leighton Concerto for Violin and Small Orchestra, written in the previous year, is well worth the wait. Its four short movements each pack a punch, with distinct and distinctive moods, and the whole thing adds up to a minor masterpiece. Again, the playing of soloist and orchestra is special: taught and bright and memorable. Very highly recommended! © 2017 Music for Several Instruments





Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group