Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Huw Watkins

Works for Violin & Piano by Hahn & Szymanowski

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COMPOSERS: Hahn,Symanowski
LABELS: Signum Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Tamsin Waley-Cohen and Huw Watkins
WORKS: Szymanowski: Violin Sonata in D minor; Nocturne and Tarantella; Hahn: Romance in A; Violin Sonata in C; Nocturne in E Flat
PERFORMER: Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin), Huw Watkins (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD432

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It is not an obvious pairing. Karol Szymanowski and Reynaldo Hahn share little in common either biographically or musically. They lived in the same epoch, though at opposite ends of Europe. Like many composers growing up at the end of the 19th century, they both were influenced to a degree by Franck and they both ended up slightly at odds with the prevailing musical fashion. Regardless, the violin works chosen for this disc combine most effectively, with Szymanowski’s music bookending Hahn’s.

If Szymanowski’s early violin sonata is indebted in part to Franck’s, it could hardly be more dissimilar in its fiery opening gestures. Tamsin Waley-Cohen is certainly not afraid to let her violin rasp dirtily either here or in the furious and thrilling Tarantella that closes the disc (if it were a singer it would need a throat lozenge by the end). Nonetheless, she also has a creamy lyricism, and she doesn’t shy away from the occasional lilting portamento in Hahn’s exquisite Romance or the genial opening movement of his Sonata. Waley-Cohen is also suitably skittish in the central ‘Veloce’, while Huw Watkins is typically deft, flitting nimbly across the piano.

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It is the sheer melting beauty in the opening pages of the final movement that makes Hahn’s sonata so affecting, especially with Waley-Cohen’s hushed tone. His Nocturne is equally lovely, being a more settled affair than Szymanowski’s, which bursts into a dance in the midst of its seductive poetic musing. It is an effective contrast that typifies an enjoyable recital. Christopher Dingle