H Watkins

BBC Music Magazine - - Concerto Reviews -

Flute Con­certo; Vi­o­lin Con­certo*; Sym­phony

Adam Walker (flute), Alina Ibrag­i­mova (vi­o­lin); Hallé/ryan Wig­glesworth; *BBC Sym­phony Or­ches­tra/ed­ward Gard­ner

NMC D224 67:02 mins

It’s still un­usual to find newly writ­ten sym­phonies, even if con­cer­tos have been mak­ing a def­i­nite come­back, and ★uw Watkins brings his per­son­able, twinkly voice to both gen­res with en­gag­ing aplomb. While some com­posers seem to sculpt in sound, Watkins’s ap­proach here feels a bit more like knit­ting (I mean this in the nicest pos­si­ble way). Of­ten he takes rapidly mov­ing strands of sound and weaves them into in­ven­tive tex­tures, pro­duc­ing quirky, sparkly ef­fects and, in the con­cer­tos, chal­leng­ing his soloists with rhyth­mic tricks aplenty.

Both con­cer­tos are in the tra­di­tional three move­ments. Watkins is alive to the in­stru­ments’ in­her­ent ex­pres­sive strengths, in the Flute Con­certo beau­ti­fully us­ing the soloist’s po­ten­tial for twit­ter­ing, flit­ter­ing flight – and Adam Walker’s sen­si­tive play­ing sits well within the tex­tures of the ★allé un­der Ryan Wig­glesworth’s sym­pa­thetic di­rec­tion. The Vi­o­lin Con­certo’s record­ing comes from its pre­miere at the BBC Proms, with Alina Ibrag­i­mova as elo­quent soloist. ★er bur­nished tone, fiery and lyri­cal, does the mu­sic’s thought­ful side espe­cially proud: Watkins pro­vides her with ex­tended can­tile­nas along­side those quick­whirling skeins – par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in the slow move­ment. She is matched by am­ple dy­namism from the BBC Sym­phony Or­ches­tra and Ed­ward Gard­ner.

The Sym­phony’s two move­ments, Al­le­gro molto and Lento, are cre­ated in an in­trigu­ing id­iom, ba­si­cally tonal, but with much of the mo­men­tum com­ing from the clever ma­nip­u­la­tion of rhyth­mic con­flict. The ★allé and Ryan Wig­glesworth de­liver a strong per­for­mance and the sound qual­ity in their parts of the disc is warm and de­tailed. The no­to­ri­ous Royal Al­bert ★all acous­tic doesn’t do the Vi­o­lin Con­certo as many favours as it de­serves. Jes­sica Duchen

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★

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