Gunning’s Violin Concerto was inspired by a hiking trip in Wales. He paints a vivid picture of the experience. In the first movement, the violin flits about thither and yon over the orchestra’s rich harmonies.
It sounded to me like a distant cousin of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Lark Ascending.” But there’s more to this work than that. In the other movements, the violin seems to take a different role, conveying the emotions Gunning experienced during the hike.
Violinist Harriet Mackenzie plays with sensitivity and expressiveness. This concerto is more about musicality than technical show. Mackenzie’s performance does just that.
The Cello Concerto is a more somber and introspective work. One that’s ideally suited to the instrument. Richard Harwood plumbs the dark emotions of this work. His playing sometimes takes on a plaintive quality that tugs at the listener’s heart.
The composer leads the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in these performances. To me, it seemed as if Gunning was talking directly to me through the soloists and the ensemble. And I liked what he was saying.
Christopher Gunning: Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto
Harriet Mackenzie, violin; Richard Harwood, cello
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Christopher Gunning, conductor
Signum Classics SIGCD621