Bliss, Walford Davies, Bowen: Violin Sonatas

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COMPOSERS: Bliss,Bowen,Walford Davies
LABELS: EM Records
WORKS: Bliss: Violin Sonata; Walford Davies: Violin Sonata in A; Bowen: Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 112
PERFORMER: Rupert Luck (violin), Matthew Rickard (piano)

Rupert Luck does himself no favours with his blog-style booklet note: it is so caught up in its mood of gushing advocacy that it fails even to mention the dates of the Bliss and Bowen works. Fortunately Luck’s playing is on a different level. Besides bombproof tuning and serious reserves of firepower, his musicianship offers full-throated, gloss-free fullness of tone which would impress in any context, while Matthew Rickard’s accompaniments provide sturdy support. Much of the music excels, too.
Bliss’s single-movement Sonata is something of a revelation, for once suppressing its composer’s notorious garrulousness in favour of some fine and vividly focused material, deployed with purposeful clarity and inventiveness. In Walford Davies’s more expansive work, the music’s very individual brand of lyrical appeal shows that this former Master of the King’s Musick is a far more interesting composer than his obscurity today would have us believe. And while Bowen’s Sonata relies rather too much for its own good on post-Brahmsian over-writing, Luck and Rickard give it a persuasive airing nonetheless. Malcolm Hayes