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British Music for Violin and Piano
Clare Howick (violin), John Paul Ekins (piano)
rec. Wathen Hall, St. Paul’s Boys School, Barnes, UK, 2017 NAXOS 8.573790 [79:56]
This attractive, well thought-out and well imagined disc of English chamber music includes five world premiere recordings. Clare Howick’s violin has a nice tone and she is sympathetically accompanied by John Paul Ekins. There is a nice sense of togetherness and understanding between the two.
The disc opens with a fairly good rendition of the Elgar Sonata, a clean and well paced performance. It is worth a listen, though Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe give a more nuanced performance (GMNCD113). Elgar is also represented by the final work on this disc, a spirited Mazurka.
The rest of the disc is dedicated to short works by four prominent English composers of their day. Frederick Delius was an excellent composer of chamber music, a part of his output all too often forgotten now in favour of his orchestral miniatures. I know a piano version of Lullaby for a Modern Baby but this version is new to me. It contains an extra melodic line which can either be hummed by the pianist or played as here on a muted violin.
Frank Bridge is represented by eight pieces, four of which receive their premiere recording. He experimented with musical styles but these pieces are all charmingly romantic, fitting well with the other works on this disc. The same can be said of John Ireland. Both his short pieces here emanate from his early period.
The last composer presented here is Cyril Scott. I have come to appreciate him through recordings on Chandos, Lyrita, and especially on Dutton Epoch who should be applauded for championing Scott. One of my favourites is the Dutton disc of music for violin and piano (CDLX7200), superbly played by Clare Howick with her usual partner, pianist Sophia Rahman. There is no overlap between these two discs. Vesperale is a premiere recording. The more I hear of Cyril Scott’s music the more I enjoy it. In Howick, he has an excellent advocate.
The performances throughout are fine, even Elgar’s sonata, of which Howick and Ekins give a committed account. The liner notes and recorded sound are also very good, making this a well filled and attractive disc.
SirEdward Elgar (1857–1934)
1-3 Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82 (1918) [27:03] Frank Bridge (1879–1941)
4 Romanze (1904) [4:16]
5 Serenade (1903) [2:39] Frederick Delius (1862–1934)
6 Five Piano Pieces – IV. Lullaby for a Modern Baby (1923) [2:24] Cyril Scott (1879–1970)
7 Vesperale (arr. Richard Lange) (1914) [2:02] * Bridge
8 Three Dances – III. Moto perpetuo (1900) [1:41]
9 Gondoliera (1907)[ 4:06] Scott
10 Sonnet No. 1 (1914) [2:11]
11 Sonnet No. 2 (1914) [3:05]
12 Bumble-Bees (1928) [1:29] Bridge
13 Four Short Pieces – IV. Country Dance (1912) [1:51] * Delius
14 Hassan: Serenade (arr. Lionel Tertis) (1920/24) [2:06] Bridge
15 Con moto (1903) [1:40] * Delius
16 Romance (1889) [4:47] John Ireland (1879–1962)
17 Bagatelle (1911) [2:42] Bridge
18 Romance: Une lamentation d’amour (1900) [5:27] * Ireland
19 Cavatina (1904) [2:13] Bridge
20 Four Short Pieces – I. Meditation (1912) [2:54] * Scott
21The Gentle Maiden (1912) [2:20] Elgar
22 Three Characteristic Pieces, Op. 10 – No. 1. Mazurka (1899) [2:59]