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Hyperion Records

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The Embankment and Cleopatra's Needle at Night, London (c1910) by George Hyde Pownall (1876-1932)
Private Collection / Bourne Gallery, Reigate / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67991/2
Recording details: April 2012
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: May 2013
Total duration: 19 minutes 24 seconds

'The E minor Sonata is a mature work of striking concision and self-confidence, brimful of memorable, red-blooded invention … there's a wholly infectious conviction, spontaneity and panache about these superbly accomplished performances that lend them special distinction. Chloë Hanslip plays with the most enviably sweet and subtly variegated tone throughout and she forms an outstandingly compelling partnership with Danny Driver, whose irreproachably eager and stylish pianism is a joy to encounter' (Gramophone)

'One idiomatic opportunity after another is seized on by Chloë Hanslip with panache, poise, and laser-like accuracy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'York Bowen has enjoyed a revival of late, not least thanks to the pianist Danny Driver, a specialist in this 'lost', late-Romantic British repertoire. He and violinist Chloe Hanslip here tackle the complete violin repertoire … the Violin Sonata in E minor's soaring first movement brings to mind Elgar's sonata in the same key … Bowen is frequently compared to Rachmaninov, which gives you an idea, up to a point, of his musical landscape. Hanslip and Driver give full rein to the wistful, lyrical mood' (The Observer)

'An outstanding new contribution to Hyperion's ongoing Bowen series' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The E minor Sonata Op 112, at once terse and varied and convincingly violinistic, is surely the finest piece here; it ought to be heard often … where it would hold its own in more recognizably exalted company, and the two artists here offer an utterly convincing rendition … full marks to the Hyperion engineers for an ideal sound' (International Record Review)

'Hanslip, now 25, has long outgrown the child prodigy status that saw her 13-year-old self become the youngest ever recording artist to be signed to Warner Classics UK. Still, even back then it was obvious that she was the real deal rather than some marketing department's poster girl-of-the-moment, thanks to the remarkable maturity of her interpretations, and a tone that combined sweet warmth with gripping strength and attack. Her recent discs for Hyperion's Romantic Violin Concerto series have been superbly rendered introductions to lesser-known repertoire gems, and this stand-alone disc is equally enjoyable. Elegant, lyrical, sprightly and passionate, she delivers Bowen's fluidly brilliant music with enormous style, from the caprice and virtuosic idiosyncrasy of the harmonics-laden Valse harmonique of 1917, to the romantic, string-biting power of the Violin Sonata in E minor of 1945. Danny Driver, who collaborates regularly with Hanslip on the concert platform, accompanies her on disc for the first time here with sensitivity, vibrancy and colour' (Sinfini.com)

Violin Sonata in E minor, Op 112
composer
1945; published in 1946

Lento  [5'25]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Although comparisons of Bowen with Rachmaninov may mislead, both were composers whose fundamental ‘language’ altered little, instead modifying itself simply by becoming more tersely and acerbically concentrated; as one sees with Bowen by placing side by side the respective first sections or movements of the Violin Sonata in E minor Op 112 (written in 1945 and published the following year) and the earlier Phantasie. The E minor Sonata admirably matches expansiveness of manner to economies of form and duration. After a dramatic introduction and first subject, a concise but open-ended secondary idea leads into central development. A chromatically discursive harmonic style does not generally lend itself to development founded upon the undermining of a sonata exposition’s opposing main keys, which may have become well buried already. Accordingly, Bowen ensures cohesion by keeping development brief and the recurrent rhythms of his contrasted main ideas plainly in view. A compressed reprise leads to the briefest of codas and a peremptory conclusion.

The calculated effect is of slamming on the brakes almost too soon, leaving unexpended momentum which then casts its shadow across the opulent yet subdued slow movement. The finale, one of Bowen’s most successful, seems to hint at the opening theme of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 in a secondary subject demanding barbaric intensity on the violin’s G string, but more generally the music evokes a kind of reinvented Mephisto Waltz, where high spirits and something fleetingly more macabre intermingle as they whirl by. A spectacular coda gains from Bowen’s expertise on both instruments. The slower, declamatory piano rhythms of the work’s opening reappear, cross-cutting the violin’s semiquavers so that, again, brakes seem to be applied—then released for a turbo-charged rush to the finish.

from notes by Francis Pott © 2013

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