Philip Sawyers – Violin Concerto, The Valley of Vision, Trumpet Concerto, Elegiac Rhapsody

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“This Violin Concerto, premiered by the current forces earlier this year, is impressive; such is the contribution of the orchestra it could almost be a ‘Symphony-Concerto’…. The finale holds a beautiful, long-breathed melody, superbly given here by Alexander Sitkovetsky, whose playing throughout is exemplary…Sawyers has a fervent interpreter in Kenneth Woods, conductor. The Valley of Vision, inspired by painter Samuel Palmer, is heard in a radiant account… it offers both sweet repose and an intense climax.The Elegiac Rhapsody for trumpet and strings, in memoriam John McCabe, is powerful. Simon Desbruslais is a superb interpreter” — Colin Clarke, Classical Music Magazine


“ONE is not often wowed by a new work, but Philip Sawyers’ Violin concerto—premiered here by Alexander Sitkovetsky and the English Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Woods—really did the trick….Sawyers knows how everything functions…there is so much nuanced and colourful material to savour…[he] develops his ideas organically on long skeins of melody, which in the brooding first movement blossom in a seethingly passionate cadenza. His Andante, too, is gorgeously melodic with a deftly scored landscape of shifting instrumental perspectives…. and the ‘hustle and bustle’ finale is delightfully frothy in an English serenade sort of way, with joyous vignettes and exhilarating challenges for the soloist. Sitkovetsky despatched everything with tremendous aplomb, and the support of Woods and his ESO players sounded terrific even in this hard acoustic. I can’t wait for the CD” -–David Hart, The Birmingham Post


“Sawyers’s Violin Concerto has moments of breathtaking intensity, especially the deeply melancholic slow movement. Anyone familiar with his music, notably the celebrated Third Symphony, will be immediately aware of his individual voice at the exquisitely lyrical opening of the first movement, the violin suspended magically on a high E, which heralds something mighty and tumultuous, and the Finale is a tour de force as much for the orchestra as the soloist…Sitkovetsky was hugely at home, bringing colour, warmth and insight to his performance as well as dazzling virtuosity, and the ESO was equally impressive, a tribute to Woods’s inspiring and rejuvenating tenure. Sawyers’s Violin Concerto (heard here between Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Schumann’s Second Symphony) will surely find its way into the repertoire and is to be released by Nimbus later this year.” Adrian Williams, Classical Source

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