The second volume in Chandos’ acclaimed Gerhard Edition feature Olivier Charlier in Gerhard’s incredible Violin Concerto.
The First Symphony comprises music of considerable force, where all is anger and anguish; there is a sense of impending violence. Gerhard chooses a three-movement scheme, placing the weightiest musical argument in the finale. The opening bars comprise an idée fixe, which Gerhard uses much like Berlioz in the Symphonie fantastique, employing the motif as a recurrant tag. The middle movement, marked adagio, is an inner scape of immense quiet power. Harmonically, Gerhard here leans towards the most chromatic end of his tonal spectrum, although the orchestration has an almost impressionistic iridescence.The gigantic finales incorporates scherzo-like sections, deveopments of the first movement’s material just before recapitulation and coda.
The Violin Concerto’s first movement is unusual in that it is really two movements in one, a scherzo emerging after the central violin cadenza. The Two principle melodic ideas are romantic, Catalan folk song influenced theme and a ruminating arpeggio-like sequence. The second movement is a de profundis of the composer’s exile, whilst the extrovert finale, full ov élan and panache, is easily the most accessible of Gerhard’s concerto movements.