You don’t have to be Czech to play Dvorak, Spanish to play Rodrigo, nor British to play Vaughan Williams. And yet an artist who shares the composer’s nationality often brings a deeper understanding to the music, a certain authenticity to the performances. That thought occurred to me as I listened to British Violin Sonatas, Volume 2.
In my review of Volume 1, I said: “Tasmin Little played with an expressive yet precise manner, letting the merits of the compositions speak for themselves.” Her performances in volume two are just as beautifully clear, but with (I think) more emotional investment. And the musical chemistry between Tasmin Little and Piers Lane is just as strong as it was in Volume 1.
The disc opens with Frank Bridge’s 1904 Sonata. It’s a somewhat conservative work for Bridge, who in the 1920s abandoned English pastoralism, if not tonality altogether. Although this is is an early work, there are times when the melody threatens to slip the constraints of late-Romantic tonality.
John Ireland’s Violin Sonata No. 1 features long phrases that extend across wide intervals. Little’s violin practically sings these melodies, bring out their structural and emotive beauty. Little and Lane make the shifting textures and moods of the work seem like a conversation between two close friends.
The Sonata of Arthur Bliss is an eleven-minute work densely packed with musical ideas. In some ways, it’s the most English-sounding of the lot, especially with its melodic turns. But the texture and cross-currents make this so much more than just another pretty pastoral.
The program concludes with the “Romance and Pastorale” of Ralph Vaughan Willimas leading into William Lloyd Webber’s beautiful “The Gardens at Eastwell.” Both are quintessential examples of the English pastoral style and make a lovely way to end the program.
My review of Volume 1 concluded: “I look forward to volume two!” Three years later, I can say it was definitely worth the wait. Now I look forward to volume three!
British Violin Sonatas, Volume 2
Tasmin Little, violin; Piers Lane, piano
Frank Bridge: sonata; John Ireland: Sonata No. 1 in D minor; Sir Arthur Bliss: Sonata; Ralph Vaughan Williams: Two Pieces; William Lloyd Webber: The Gardens at Eastwell
Chandos CHAN 10899