Rawsthorne, Mccabe

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COMPOSERS: Mccabe,Rawsthorne
LABELS: Metier
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Theme and Variations for two violins
PERFORMER: Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Christine Sohn (violin), Tamami Honma (piano)
The Theme and Variations was the work that made Rawsthorne’s name in 1938, and it’s not hard to see why: the theme itself is short and punchy, but contains a taste of the lyrical as well, and the variations contrast and ultimately synthesise these moods, with an abundance of proliferating counterpoint. There’s a definite sense, especially in a performance as committed as this, of the two violins addressing the audience directly with a common voice. Dating from 21 years later, the Violin Sonata is more of an enigmatic dialogue, with the piano and violin posing each other questions which are never completely resolved. It’s a work which John McCabe admires for its economy of means and wealth of detail, and those phrases could well describe his own music. Maze Dances is in what Sheppard Skaerved describes as the ‘modern-zigeuner’ tradition, and his rich tone and free but controlled rubato bring this out, but there’s also an underlying tightness of construction in the way that a small amount of musical material is mined and varied to create a 16-minute span. That skill is even more evident in Star Preludes, a tougher piece, but one which inspires terrific virtuosity from the performers. Martin Cotton