British Violin Sonatas, Vol. 3
Bowen: Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 112; Ireland: Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor; Alwyn: Violin Sonatina in C major
Tasmin Little (violin), Piers Lane (piano)
Chandos CHAN 20133 70:07 mins
From the tempestuous piano introduction to Bowen’s Op. 112 Sonata, it’s easy to see why he was dubbed ‘the English Rachmaninov’. But there’s also a more native turn of phrase in the lyrical passages, and the performers respond to both aspects of the music with muscular virtuosity and affection. Especially in the high tessitura of the slow movement, Tasmin Little’s tonal variety and rhythmic freedom capture the romantic outpouring, although I wish that she were sometimes more forward in the balance.
Ireland’s Second Sonata is a more troubled work, written during the First World War. Harmonically sparer than the Bowen and more jagged in its melodic contours, it receives a performance which mirrors the conviction of the composer. Even the sustained passages have an undercurrent of sorrow and regret, and the playfulness which surfaces in the finale achieves only a limited victory. As its title suggests, Alwyn’s Sonatina is on a more modest scale, but still creates contrast in its three movements, with long-limbed melody in the initial Allegro, a more desolate central Adagio and a dancing finale. The performers always find time for the music, and that’s equally true in the short works by Brown and Coates which leaven the recording.