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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: The English Kreisler: The Violin Music of Albert Sammons
PERFORMER: Paul Barritt (violin), Catherine Edwards (piano)
Although largely self-taught, English violinist and composer Albert Sammons numbered Kreisler and Heifetz among his admirers. He wrote only one large-scale work – his Phantasy Quartet of 1915 – and the rest of his output consisted solely of miniatures. Not for nothing is Sammons dubbed ‘The English Kreisler’: these salon pieces, written throughout his life, are full of charm and subtlety. The sensual harmonies and melancholy flavour of Lullaby are reminiscent of Frank Bridge’s own pieces in the same vein, while Debussian successions of whole-tone chords pervade the Rêve d’enfant. The sweetly lyrical, contemplative phrases of the Intermezzo bear a hint of Elgar’s Salut d’amour and in the high-flown passion of the Roumanian Air and Gypsy Dance the piano even masquerades as a cimbalom with its melodramatic tremolando.


Violinist Paul Barritt sometimes lacks refinement. His attention to detail is occasionally not close enough, and his portamento is undertaken so slowly as to sound ugly in places. But this aside, he plays with real vividness and sparkle, finely characterising each of Sammons’s elegant and picturesque little sketches, and in Catherine Edwards he has found an accompanist of admirable sensitivity and delicacy of touch. Catherine Nelson