Peter Racine FRICKER
Violin Sonata No. 1 Op. 12 (1951)
Violin Sonata No. 2 Op. 94 (1986-87)
Violin Sonata (1958)
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Violin Sonata in A minor
Susanne Stanzeleit (violin)/Julian
rec 18-20 July 1995, St Michael's Church, Highgate
CALA UNITED CACD88036
Vaughan Williams' violin sonata dedicated to Joseph Szigeti is a late work
written in 1954. In many respects it is a curious piece. It opens with a
"structurally impressive Fantasia" (Michael Kennedy), followed by a brilliant
Scherzo, "one of Vaughan Williams' most rhythmically interesting movements"
(MK) and ends with a set of variations, the theme of which comes from an
early piano quintet (1903). An uneven, though very attractive piece invested
with considerable passion by both players. Stanzeleit studied under Végh,
Kogan and Milstein).
Rawsthorne's violin sonata was written
in 1958 and is one of his happiest achievements, full of invention and
imagination. "The four movements are terse and the cyclic links between them
are instantly audible and telling, without making themselves tiresome" (Colin
Mason after the first public performance in Cheltenham in 1960).
Peter Racine Fricker's violin sonatas
were composed almost at both ends of his creative life (No. 1, 1951; No.
2, 1987) and give ample evidence of Fricker's stylistic journey. The first
sonata is a compact and serious work in which echoes of Bartók may
be heard and is clearly a product of Fricker's early years. It shares more
than one common characteristic with other early works such as his first violin
concerto (Op. 11 1951) and the first symphony (Op. 9 1948/9). It is in three
movements: a terse Allegro, a beautiful Allegretto (comme
un'valse distante) and a moving final Adagio.
The second violin sonata was written between 1986 and 1987 and received its
first performance in Cardiff in November 1988. At that time Fricker (1920-1990)
had settled in the States (he left England in about 1964) and his style had
changed considerably. Some complained that Fricker's late music had mellowed
and had thus become more soft-grained. It seems to me that his music actually
acquired more subtlety when compared with his more uncompromising early music
though the structural grip and the sureness of touch remained. His later
music seems more lyrical, more expansive and warmer.
The second violin sonata falls into four movements: Strongly - Broad
opening in a declamatory way but ending on a meditative note; a brilliant
nervous Presto; a beautifully lyrical Andante cantabile and
a broad poco allegro offsetting the opening movement.
Fricker's violin sonatas certainly are fine pieces of music that should be
heard more often for each contains some of Fricker's finest music. This very
fine release offers the first modern recordings of Fricker's long neglected
music. I hope this leads to a renewed interest in the music of a deeply serious,
distinguished composer who deserves to be better known.