December 2011 issue
Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto
Tasmin Little violin, Paul Watklns cello,
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis
Chandos © CHSA5094 (69" • DDD/DSD)
Little and Watkins revive Delius’s concertante works
Some two decades ago Tasmin Little set down memorable versions of both the Violin Concerto and Double Concerto with Sir Charles Mackerras at the helm (for Argo and EMI Eminence respectively). Clearly the intervening years have not diminished her abundant love for and entrancing empathy with this glorious repertoire. Not only does she surmount every technical hurdle with ease, her tone remains wonderfully pure and heart-warmingly expressive.

Little's partnership with Paul Watkins strikes me as an especial success; indeed, theirs is the most tenderly lyrical and raptly spontaneous performance of the Double Concerto to have yet come my way (and I do not forget the considerable claims of Little's own earlier recording with Raphael Wallfisch). In the Cello Concerto Watkins resuscitates all except two bars of Delius's altogether more challenging original edition of the solo part. Suffice it to say, he brings a wealth of profound musicality, ardour and insight to bear, making his an interpretation to cherish and one to which I can already see myself returning many times.

Some listeners might quibble with Davis's slightly forceful treatment of the Violin Concerto's introductory bars (a muscular forte rather than the mf marked in my copy of the miniature score), but it's indicative of the strength of purpose that courses through his beautifully prepared readings - achieved, I should add, without any lack of fragrant poetry, elegant proportion or instinctive ebb and flow. The orchestral playing is commendably poised throughout, Chandos's SACD sound airy, rich and glowing. No self-respecting Delian can afford to be without this indispensable issue.

Andrew Achenbach
Violin Concerto - selected comparison:
Little, WNO Orchestra, Mackerras (1*W) (DECC) 418 3078DB8
Double Concerto - selected comparison:
Little, Wallfisch, RLPO, Mackerras (3/92*) (EMI 08S858-2)