In this, the third and final instalment of an excellent series devoted to 20th-century British chamber works for violin and piano, the very fine violinist Tasmin Little has chosen to farewell with a lesser-known selection of works than in her previous instalments. Little has always been an enquiring musician who is always up for a challenge as those who have attended her local concerts will attest.
Those concerts have also attested to her love of British composers. Now considering retirement from the stage, Little has chosen to consolidate that love with a triptych of fine albums featuring the sympathetic pianism of Piers Lane – and here is a true partnership, rather than violinist and accompanist, as they set out to present rarer choices for the third album in this important set of recordings.
Firstly should be noted the world premiere recording of The Hart’s Grace (2016), a work of “dreamy intensity” written especially for Little by the contemporary composer, Francis Brown. Each of the three central works in this recital have had troubled histories and have remained underappreciated. Alwyn’s early Sonatina was disowned by the composer as juvenilia and yet has thankfully survived to receive this gracious performance. Similarly, York Bowen’s work remained little-known or appreciated until a couple of decades ago; and here he’s represented by his sonata, Op. 112, an intense and perhaps rather neurotic work from the 1940s. This contrasts well with Ireland’s Second Sonata, dating from the troubled 1910s.
These works are ideally suited to a player of Little’s character and commitment, and Piers Lane only adds to this intoxicating and often almost febrile mix.
All of these choices offer much to show the talents of these musicians, for Little is a giving player with a a passionate style and an enquiring mind; the perfect foil lies in her choice of pianist, Piers Lane and hopefully together the two of them, with this excellent recording, can re-present this overlooked music to an appreciative public. Now, can Chandos please release all three volumes as a set?
Title: British Violin Sonatas Volume 3
Music by: Alwyn, Bowen, Ireland & Brown
Performers: Tasmin Little v, Piers Lane p
Label: Chandos CHAN20133