Hyperion Records

Valse harmonique
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Valse harmonique was composed five days after the Serenade, on 29 April 1917. Its title refers not to harmonic content, but to techniques whereby a violinist may lightly touch the string at various points, thereby shortening its sounding length and creating artificial overtones possessing a variety of pitches and distinctive timbres. The hurdy-gurdy effect of Bowen’s expert string-writing here complements the melancholic persistence of the Serenade in a wan, ashen expressionism disconcertingly at odds with the insouciance of the idiom itself. Whatever the true tone of this music, it would be surprising if Bowen had remained wholly free from occasional inner demons during 1917.

from notes by Francis Pott © 2013

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