ALBUM TITLE: Soli
WORKS: Solo violin works by Benjamin, Bartók, Penderecki, Carter & Kurtág
PERFORMER: Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 416
The opening of the Bartók Sonata is powerful and arresting, and there’s passion and musical imagination throughout, the fiendish multiple stops and alternations between bowed and plucked notes assured in tone and precise in intonation. I’m not so sure about Tamsin Waley-Cohen’s slow tempo in the first movement: what starts out being improvisatory can morph into caution, and there needs to be an even wider range of colour to reflect Bartók’s imaginative writing. Still, there is contrast between the aggressive ‘Fuga’ and the more yielding and intimate ‘Melodia’, while the final Presto restores the microtones which Yehudi Menuhin edited out of the first printed edition. He found more performance energy though.
Apart from Penderecki’s empty, over-long Cadenza, the rest of the CD shows composers at the top of their game in a series of shorter pieces. Benjamin’s include a restless canon and a lullaby; one of Carter’s Lauds remembers Aaron Copland, complete with a brief passage of jazzy syncopation; the other, more rhapsodic, the leader of the Juilliard Quartet. Waley-Cohen is at her most persuasive in Kurtág’s masterful Six Miniatures, which span a wide range of moods, from the angry to the tenuous and tentative. Martin Cotton