The Canadian violinist reveals the importance of Elgar in his life and why Respighi isn’t for the living room.

Congratulations on a fascinating recording of unusual material. How did the programme for the CD come together?

It was actually the programme for a recital idea that I had. I was fascinated by music written towards the end of the First World War. These really wonderful and iconic pieces for violin and piano are so very, very different. I was wondering how much of that was attributable to people being isolated for maybe the last time in history. If you look at the pieces on this programme, you have Sibelius, who was completely isolated up in Finland, cut off from Europe. There was the First World War and the impending Russian Revolution and the Finnish civil war – all sorts of chaos. Elgar was so dismayed by all this that he withdrew to the country and had this wonderfully fertile creative period. Debussy became incredibly patriotic and was signing things as “un musicien français”. And then you had Respighi, down in Italy doing his own thing, and unlike the others, really coming into his own as a superstar composer at...

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