This, the second album in Chandos’ exploration of the music of Doreen Carwithen features the premiere recordings of both the Violin Sonata and the two String Quartets. The recordings were made in the presence of the composer, who was extremely pleased with the results - the ultimate seal of approval!
The artists featured on this recording are particularly well suited to the repertoire - Lydia Modkovitch with her passionate and emotionally charged virtuosity, the Sorrel Quartet with their insightful and intuitive interpretations.
Carwithen’s First Quartet was premiered at a chamber concert given at the Royal Academy of Music by the Zorian Quartet, with Vaughan Williams present in the audience. He chatted to Carwithen after the perfomance and was most complimentary about the work - except for the Coda, which contains seven bars of ponticello, a technique which he apparently disliked!
The Second Quartet is written in two extended movements. It begins on the viola, using a minor second, and it is this interval which is used throughout the first movement, sometimes inverted making a major seventh. The allegro second movement uses a busy semiquaver pattern, tossed around among the instruments with much syncopation until a long trill on the viola leads to a broad tune accompanied by major sevenths. A coda based on the first movement follows, until the viola again plays the opening monor second and is joined by the rest of the quartet in unison.
The Violin Sonata is a later work than the quartets. It is in three movements, but these are not in the usual pattern of moderato, slow, vivace; nor do they follow a strictly sonata-form structure. The work is full of virtuoso writing for both instruments throughout.