Perhaps no composer embodied the new spirit of comradeship and collaboration between England and France more enthusiastically than the Bradford-born, Paris-domiciled Frederick Delius. His Sonata in B major offers a becoming portrait of the then 30-year-old composer; youthfully dramatic with a growing virtuosity and vigour that makes it seem, as Robert Matthew-Walker notes in his erudite booklet notes, like the “extended and manifestly symphonic composition” it is.
Composed at the same age, John Ireland’s breakthrough First Violin Sonata combines Edwardian elegance with a hint of French Impressionism gleaned from Debussy – whose late, last Violin Sonata in G minor is a work of profoundly-expressed emotions – and Ravel, whose Pièce en forme de habanera is hauntingly memorable.
While resident in Paris in the early years of the last century, Cyril Scott enjoyed cordial relations with Ravel and Debussy, who particularly admired his music. His Valse Caprice and arrangement of Cherry Ripe infuse well-mannered salon pieces with lithe French elegance. Similarly so, Arnold Bax’s ever-popular picture-postcard Mediterranean in its vivacious arrangement by Jascha Heifetz.
Clare Howick and Simon Callaghan’s British Violin Sonatas (SOMMCD 0610) was hailed by MusicWeb International as a “fascinating collection of works, expertly performed with unalloyed musicality and commitment”. The Strad remarked it offered “gems from British composers captured by an outstanding violin and piano duo”.
Partnered by Hiroaki Takenouchi, Simon Callaghan’s two-volume survey of Delius’ orchestral music arranged for two pianos (SOMMCD 0112 and 0129) were described by MusicWeb International as “magnificent” and “fine performances of often elusive music”.
On This Recording
Frederick Delius: Violin Sonata in B major, Op. posth
- I Allegro con brio
- II Andante molto tranquillo
- III Allegro con moto
- Cherry Ripe “For Fritz Kreisler”
- Valse Caprice arr. A.W. Kramer*
- I Allegro Vivo
- II Intermède: Fantasque et léger
- III Finale: Très animé
- Pièce en forme de habanera (arr. Jascha Heifetz)
- I Allegro leggiadro
- II Romance: In tempo sostenuto, quasi adagio
- III Rondo: Allegro sciolto assai
- Mediterranenan (arr. Jascha Heifetz)
Claude Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor
John Ireland: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor
* First Recording
“This carefully designed and interesting programme reflects the cultural warmth which developed in Edwardian times between France and England… The major work is Ireland’s first sonata in D minor… Written in the shadow of Celtic Twilight and the spooky influence of the writings of Arthur Machen, its nervous energy continually holds the attention. The electrifying Druidic chords in the slow movement seem to colour everything which has gone both before and after. Needles to say these expert performers give a magnificent account of this piece. … The other major English work is the early sonata by Delius… Again, the performance is excellent. … The French sonata on the disc is Debussy’s spectral, death-haunted work of 1916-17. I loved the mastery of phrasing and pacing of this performance…” —Geoffrey Atkinson, British Music Society
“Throughout the disc Howick’s technique is wonderfully clean and secure. As mentioned her use of vibrato, portamenti and rhythmic freedom serves the music with style and sensitivity. Simon Callaghan is a pianist I have admired in reviews frequently and he proves to be as skilled an accompanist as he is a soloist. At the risk of becoming a cracked record [pardon the pun], the SOMM engineering, production and presentation is up to their usual very high standard. At just over eighty minutes in length this is a very generous collection to boot. SOMM have made something of a speciality of these anthology-type of discs – their Gluepot and Facades collections immediately spring to mind – both of which made it into my Records of the Year lists. This new disc is of a similar calibre and merit. With Tasmin Little having recently laid down her bow, there is a strong case for Clare Howick becoming the leading proponent of British violin repertoire. A unique and successful combination of familiar repertoire given performances of the highest quality.” —Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International
“Following their well-received album of British violin sonatas, Clare Howick and Simon Callaghan return with a curious but effective mix of French and British violin works. … Howick and Callaghan… are absolutely attuned and on form for the sultry Ravel, and John Ireland’s vigorous yet passionate First Violin Sonata, a work which emerges here as a great and grievously overlooked masterpiece which deserves far more hearings. Heifetz’s Bax arrangement makes an attractive encore to this most enjoyable recital.” —Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“ This isn’t the first time Clare Howick and Simon Callaghan have got together to record an enticing programme of violin sonatas. Last year I reviewed their CD of British Violin Sonatas, including some less well-known pieces, which made a very favourable impression. … I have nothing but praise for Howick and Callaghan, who perform these works with authority, integrity and formidable musicianship. They’ve been well-served by the Somm recording engineers, who’ve manage to achieve the perfect balance between the two instrumentalists. This is augmented by the excellent accompanying liner contribution by Robert Matthew-Waker. This is a recording I’ll be returning to many times, especially for the Delius and Ireland works.” —Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International