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Cat. No. CHAN 10792 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10792 - Paul Watkins - British Works for Cello and Piano, Volume 2
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Available From: 16 September 2013
Paul Watkins - British Works for Cello and Piano, Volume 2

This is Volume 2 in our series of British works for cello and piano, performed by the exclusive Chandos artist Paul Watkins, with his brother Huw Watkins on the piano. Acclaimed for his inspirational performances and eloquent musicianship, Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career as both a cellist and conductor.

The three sonatas on this album were written within the space of three years, 1921 – 23, by three composers – Bowen, Ireland, and Bax – all of whom at the time were regarded as leading figures of their generation in Britain.

Through all the tumultuous changes of the early twentieth century, Bowen’s music remained essentially the same: traditional in form, romantic in expression, confidently idiomatic in its instrumental writing. His output was nearly forgotten for decades following the death of Bowen in 1961, although it is now happily undergoing a small revival. Bowen was particularly skilled at writing finales, and here too, in his Cello Sonata, Op. 64, it makes for the most inventive movement of the work, with the percussive piano writing and a lively cello theme driving the sonata to a most flamboyant conclusion.

Arnold Bax liked to call himself a ‘brazen romantic’, perhaps with a touch of defiance. He is today principally remembered as a composer for the orchestra, with a copious and colourful output of symphonic poems and symphonies. But he also wrote a great deal of chamber and instrumental music, much of it of excellent quality, including several works for cello. By 1923, when his cello sonata in E flat was written, he was at the height of his powers, and recognised as one of the foremost living British composers. This work is particularly fascinating in the way that it moves restlessly back and forth among its various elements, at one moment breaking out in savage dance, at another lapsing into romantic reverie.

Much more concise than Bax’s expansive sonata, Ireland’s is a tautly-constructed and virile work, full of passionate intensity. Apart from an arrangement of his popular piano prelude The Holy Boy, this was the only work by Ireland to feature a solo cello, and as is the case with the other two sonatas on this album, it places great virtuosic demands on both performers.


 "...The music of these three composers is powerfully emotional and basically romantic in character, though not lacking in dissonance and drama ... this release has its virtues as a program and is very well played. The warmth of both Watkin’s tone and the way they work together is a strong recommendation. The Chandos sound is rich."
David W Moore - American Record Guide - March/April 2014

 “… on more than one occasion, I’ve sung the praises of Paul Watkins, unquestionably, in my opinion, one of today’s foremost cellists. This new album further bolsters his reputation with gorgeous tonal bloom, ample technique to surmount the thorniest technical passages, and perhaps most inspiring of all, performances that are musically sensitive and deeply committed emotionally to these works. I’ve also had the opportunity to praise pianist Huw Watkins, who often partners with Paul, for his outstanding playing and true chamber-music-making instincts. This is an enormously satisfying CD, with music and performances further enhanced by Chandos’s as always wide and deep soundstage recording. Very strongly recommended.”

Jerry Dubins – Fanfare – March/April 2014

"...Paul Watkins and Huw Watkins have all this music in their very being and play here, as always, with great spontaneity. The Chandos recording is entirely truthful."
Ivan March - Gramophone magazine - December 2013

 "...The recording itself is excellent and the engineers have ideally balanced the cello and piano. The programme notes are a model of their kind giving an overview of each composer and a detailed but not overly technical description of each work. The CD cover puns on Elizabeth Lutyens’ comment about the ‘Cow-Pat school of music’, except this time it is a sheep that peers through a gap in the wall. Nothing could be further from the truth with this romantically-charged music. I noted above that the programme selection was ideal and there is a generous 75 minutes of music. This is an ideal CD for all British music enthusiasts, although I would hope that all lovers of the cello would be inspired to purchase this disc. It is a fine programme of three stunning sonatas, inspiringly played and beautifully presented."

John France - MusicWeb-International.com - 27 November 2013

                   Performance ****       Recording ****
"... the Watkins brothers remain by far the best recorded guides to this powerful and enjoyable repertoire.!
Geoff Brown - BBC Music magazine - Christmas 2013

“… this is a well-contrasted, well-achieved recital, one that often illuminates its three composers intriguingly.”
Piers Burton-Page – International Record Review – November 2013  


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