Chandos CHAN 10770
British Violin Sonatas, Vol. 1
Ferguson: Sonata No. 2, Op. 10; Walton: Violin Sonata, Two Pieces; Britten: Suite, Op. 6 – Tasmin Little, Piers Lane
Enjoying a flourishing career that has taken her to every continent and major orchestra around the world, the violinist and exclusive Chandos artist Tasmin Little continues to champion seldom-performed repertoire. This disc marks the beginning of her new survey of British violin sonatas with the pianist Piers Lane.
As a composer, Howard Ferguson had a preoccupation with technical finesse, which meant that he was a slow and meticulous composer. He produced only twenty works before he decided to abandon composition altogether in 1959, as a result of his lack of sympathy with the modernist trends of the day. Ferguson wrote his Violin Sonata No. 2 for the Israeli violinist Yfrah Neaman. The sense of anxiety that is conveyed throughout is highly characteristic of the works by this composer, as is the intensely economical motivic workings.
William Walton wrote his Violin Sonata as a gesture of gratitude to Yehudi Menuhin for having lent him 1000 Swiss Francs to pay for medical treatment of his partner at the time, Alice Wimborne, who had fallen ill while they were in Lucerne. The sonata is unusual in its two-movement format. Both movements are substantial, and this may explain why Walton dropped the two-minute Scherzetto which he originally had sandwiched between them. The Scherzetto was later published separately as one of the Two Pieces for Violin and Piano, the other being a Canzonetta based on a mediaeval troubadour theme. The Two Pieces were dedicated to Vivien Leigh and her husband, Laurence Olivier.
Long before Benjamin Britten became famous as an opera composer, his aptitude for composition was evident in a series of early instrumental works marked by their technical brilliance, few more virtuosic than his Suite, Op. 6. While this is true, Britten himself seemed undecided about the structure of the work, which went through numerous reconsiderations, the last of which he prepared just eight months before his death.