The Sonatas for Violin and Piano
Daniel Hope and Simon Mulligan are outstanding young talents whose earlier Nimbus recording of Shostakovitch's violin sonata earned well-deserved plaudits. Here, they turn to a pair of 20th-century English works with equal success. The Elgar, written in the wake of World War I's devastation, has a bold Allegro first movement and an expansive final movement flanking an expressive "Romance." It's top-drawer Elgar, and as played by these vibrant musicians, there's not a whiff of the Edwardian pomposity some associate with this composer. Hope's slashing attacks, wide dynamics, and intensity are matched by Mulligan's sensitive pianism. The Walton Sonata, another fascinating work, is played with wonderful spontaneity. It's a work of strong contrasts, and Hope sustains Walton's deeply felt slow sections with concentration, while giving the faster sections the zip and panache they need. Finzi's Elegy, largely pastoral in mood, makes for a nice interlude between the two big works. --Dan Davis
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Top customer reviews
Elgar's Sonata for violin & piano in E minor, Op. 82 further demonstrates that this composer is unduly neglected except for a few works. The sonata is brilliantly written and is demanding in its outer movements, yet in the inner movement, Romance, it is as ethereal as anything Elgar ever wrote.
Gerald Finzi's brief but exquisite Elegy for violin & piano in F major is a work that should find its way into recitals more often. Nothing spectacular as far as execution demands, but just simply beautiful melodic arches, here caressed by Hope's warm golden tone and echoed by Mulligan's attentive nuances.
The recital concludes with another rarity, William Walton's Sonata for Violin and Piano, a work of fine construction and invention that, like the Elgar, once again proves that the music of Walton is too often shelved instead of performed. Hope and Mulligan shine in this testing work, meeting the aggressive attacks securely and seeking the plaintive moments with equal care. It is a sonata worth of many repeated hearings. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 06