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  Ancalagon -
  ANC 133
  Hindson, Corigliano, Liszt - Lara St. John
  Hindson: Violin Concerto, Corigliano: Suite from "The Red Violin", Liszt (arr. Kennedy/St. John): Totentanz

Lara St. John (violin)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sarah Ioannides (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded at Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London June 18-20, 2007
Produced by Martha de Francisco
Recording engineers: Geoff Foster and Jake Jackson
Post production by Polyhymnia

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 2

Review by wehecht August 10, 2008 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Lara St. John's recordings seem to produce as much comment on her physical attributes and the marketing of same as the music and performances. For those who are bothered by such things I'm happy to report that there is less of that element here than on earlier releases. Which is not to say that the packaging of this recording is conventional. Ancalagon, St. John's own label, provides a beautifully done package: photographs of stunning scenery (complete with the requisite poses of the artist ostensibly playing her Guadagnini, this time in the wilderness), excellent and generous annotations, and, most importantly first class production by Martha de Francisco and typically excellent engineering by Polyhymnia. I mention these items first not because the music or performances are lacking in any way, but simply to dospose of them before turning to what matters most.

Matthew Hindson's violin concerto is the most substantial work on the program. Hindson is a new name to me and, so far as I know, I've never heard a note of his music before now. The concerto, in the traditional three movements, is somewhat pictorial in nature, being in the form of what the composer calls, in his note on the music, "Australian postcards", representations in sound of specific Australian locations or activities. Despite some rather graphic sound effects the material is largely lyrical, and certainly no more difficult to enjoy and apprehend than, for example, Jennifer Higdon's Blue Cathedral or Christopher Theofanidis' Rainbow Body (Telarc SACD-60596). With no standard of comparison I can only say that the performance seems just fine.

John Corigliano's Suite from the Red Violin is distinct from the Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra and the Violin Concerto, both derived from the same source, Francois Girard's film The Red Violin. The music is unashamedly romantic and follows the narrative of the film. I've heard Joshua Bell perform the violin concerto in concert with the BSO, and Ms St. John and the RPO more than hold their own in this iteration of the music. Concluding the program is a real curate's egg, a transcription by St. John and Martin Kennedy (another name unknown to me) of Franz Liszt's Totentanz. How exactly this fits with the two neo-romantic contemporary pieces I'm not at all sure, though it's enjoyable enough in it's own right and clearly demonstrates that St. John has the "chops" to play anything she wants (nonetheless give me Arnaldo Cohen's performance of the piano and orchestra version on BIS SACD-1530 any day).

In summary: an excitingly played and very well recorded disc of unusual music for violin and orchestra, and a gift to those of us who bemoan the never ending flood of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Shostakovich symphonies (though I anxiously await the completion of the superb Vanska set of the Beethoven and would welcome a Manfred with open arms and wallet).

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Review by krisjan April 16, 2009 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
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Works: 3  

John Corigliano - Suite from "The Red Violin"
Matthew Hindson - Violin Concerto
Franz Liszt - Totentanz, S. 126