Compositions: Orchestral works
Performers: Liepaja SO/John Gibbons
Catalogue Number: TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0526
William Wordsworth (1908-1988) was an English composer whose reputation seemed to die with him. Coming up through the church, Wordsworth was reputedly a taciturn individual, but prolific, producing eight symphonies, a large oratorio Dies Domini, and much church music. Four of his symphonies were issued on the Lyrita label, and two (Nos 4 and 8) by Toccata Classics.
Three Pastoral Sketches (1934) was his first orchestral work. The influence of Vaughan Williams and Holst is clear. No 2, The Lonely Tarn, is unashamedly imitative of Saturn from The Planets. Wordsworth’s use of counterpoint is strong; no doubt a result of the composer’s study under Stanford, while the first sketch Sundown employs impressionistic textures.
The Piano Concerto of 1946, in one continuous movement, is a rugged work, expertly written for both piano and orchestra. The disappointment lies in the thematic motifs, which are uninteresting even though Wordsworth varies them imaginatively. If they were catchier it might be better known. His 1955 Violin Concerto is a more varied and distinctive piece. Memorable episodes include a vigorous Waltonian fugato, and a rhythmic passage in the finale where a wooden box in the percussion section doubles the violin’s dancelike line.
John Gibbons and his Latvian orchestra present these works in the best possible light. Both soloists shine, and the sound is excellent.