Bowen: Suite for Violin & Piano, Op. 28; Cello Sonata, Op. 64; Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 112

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COMPOSERS: Bowen
LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: Suite for Violin & Piano, Op. 28; Cello Sonata, Op. 64; Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 112
PERFORMER: Endymion Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7120
Dutton’s second disc of music by the London-born York Bowen spans most of his career: from 1909, when as an up-and-coming young composer-pianist he partnered the great Fritz Kreisler in the first performance of his Suite; through 1921, when the Sonata he wrote for the eminent cellist Beatrice Harrison was politely received as ‘graceful and academic’; to 1946, when his Violin Sonata aroused little interest, and when he grumbled to an interviewer about the ‘audacious insults’ which by then passed as modern music (and he was to live, poor man, until 1961).

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In fact, through all the tumultuous changes of the early 20th century, Bowen’s music remained essentially the same: traditional in form, Romantic in expression, confidently idiomatic in its instrumental writing. But these three substantial pieces, if never of any great originality, certainly have their attractions – notably the salon-like ease of the middle movements of the Suite, and the intimate lyricism of the slow movements of the two sonatas.

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The violinist Krysia Osostowicz soars in her upper register with piercing sweetness; the pianist Michael Dussek revels in some Rachmaninov-like virtuoso figuration; the cellist Jane Salmon plays with admirable finesse – though her Sonata comes off less well than the violin works in the spacious recording. Anthony Burton