Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Hakim; Henze; Matthews; Smirnov Solo Violin Music
Peter Sheppard
Metier CD92028  website

Best known as leader of the Kreutzer String Quartet (before he acquired an additional name which my computer can't spell properly -[but mine can - Len]) how fortunate are RAM and London College of Music & Media students to have Peter Sheppard Skærved as teacher and head of strings. One is interested by what route this totally personal and unique CD arrived? He does not list his competition prizes, as do so most instrumentalists, but with justified pride describes his repertoire, with over a hundred new works dedicated to him. (That information is almost unreadable, minuscule type and overprinted in grey!) They should help to steer students away from exclusive preoccupation with the ubiquitous and over played Bach music for solo strings.

His notes discuss his personal relationship with the scores and their composers. Naji Hakim (famous organ improviser) has an exciting, eclectic sonata and Henze's sonata is a major work, based upon commedia dell'arte characters, played here in a shortened (and, thinks Sheppard, improved) 1993 revision. Henze's Serenade for Menuhin's 75th birthday is also included. Dmitri Smirnov is represented by two fugues in which he uses 'colour separation' to clarify the part writing. David Matthews' four-part Fugue relates to Bach and Ysaye. His Three Studies are 'virtuosic and evocative' as Sheppard describes them in his always interesting notes, which explain the genesis of this recorded collection.

He purports to disparage the solo violin's limitations and then turns that on its head with his playing! The styles are pleasantly contrasted and the sequence makes for easy, absorbing listening. A solo violin as a very comfortable, welcome house guest for those (few?) of us who can find listening to major orchestral works at home somehow incongruous and even intrusive.

Well recorded in two St Mary's churches in the West Country, this is a totally successful recital and you won't find another like it.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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