Howells: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No.2; Violin Sonata No. 3; Cradle Song,Op. 9/1; 3 Pieces, Op. 28

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Howells
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No.2; Violin Sonata No. 3; Cradle Song,Op. 9/1; 3 Pieces, Op. 28
PERFORMER: Paul Barritt (violin) Catherine Edwards (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66665 DDD
This is a delightful release. The music is lyrical, evocative and essentially genial. It is immediately accessible, but it also reveals increasing riches on repeated hearings. Howells’s writing is imaginative and inventive for both instruments, and Paul Barritt and Catherine Edwards give polished, impeccable performances, with silken phrasing. Howells loved to experiment with complex musical forms. The First Sonata demonstrates formidable skill and imagination in building a sonata-based structure with common themes, across the span of the three movements. But it is not drily academic; there is a great variety of mood and emotional intensity. The Second Sonata, by contrast, is more openly Romantic, suggestive of a restrained Rachmaninov. The second movement pre-echoes Howells’s most famous song, ‘King David’, and its plaintive melody haunts you. But, for me, the Third Sonata is the most impressive. The violin soars like Vaughan Williams’s lark ascending above a gentle landscape like the Malverns, and then swoops over more rugged country, the piano part suggesting massive, towering rocks and tumbling waters. The supporting, shorter pieces are all little gems. Chosen Tune is a lovely English melody, Cradle Song is a charming lullaby and Pastorale has a most attractive lilting rhythm. Very enjoyable. Ian Lace

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