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Philip Sawyers (b 1951), currently John McCabe composer-in-residence of the English Symphony Orchestra, has a distinctive compositional voice, attractive yet serious. His 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’. Indeed, material is transplanted from Sawyer’s third symphony. Sawyers’ voice is tonally based, but in a way which is sometimes reminiscent of Rubbra; the finale holds a beautiful, long-breathed melody, superbly given here by Sitkovetsky, whose playing throughout is exemplary.

Sawyer has a fervent interpreter in Woods. The Valley of Vision, inspired by painter Samuel Palmer, is heard in a radiant account; clearly in the English Pastoralist vein, it offers both sweet repose and an intense climax. If the trumpet concerto is less memorable as a piece, the Elegiac Rhapsody for trumpet and strings, in memoriam John McCabe, is powerful. Desbruslais is a superb interpreter.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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