Smirnov, Schulhoff, Henze, D Matthews

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: D Matthews,Henze,Schulhoff,Smirnov
LABELS: Fish Ear
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Winter Journey
WORKS: Works for solo violin by Smirnov, Schulhoff, Henze, D Matthews,
PERFORMER: Peter Sheppard (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: FECD 621 DDD (distr. POBox 22, Teddington, Middx TW11 8PB, UK)
This disc smacks of vanity publishing – an excuse to show off as a performer without too much attention paid to the choice of music. Over an hour of unbroken unaccompanied violin is likely to be austere from the greatest composers, but a hotchpotch of unknown 20th-century works with virtually no information about any of them suggests an oddly motivated disc. However, a substantial 15-minute work by David Matthews, Winter Journey, written in the early Eighties, demonstrates how effective a concentrated use of limited means can be, compared with the ‘butterfly’ approach. ‘Butterflies’ abound in Dmitri Smirnov’s Partita, as it continually flits from idea to idea, never keen to rest or develop. Strauss’s Daphne Etude, written just before he died, is plain, lyrical, almost lazily improvisatory. But it makes a good foil for the disc’s main bore, Erwin Schulhoff’s four-movement Sonata written in 1926. The main fault of this disc is its over-close miking in an already reverberant acoustic which flatters Sheppard at first, but ultimately becomes one-dimensional and relentless. Annette Morreau