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Cat. No. CHAN 9880 Price: £5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9880 - McEwen: Violin Sonatas
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Available From: 15 January 2001
After the completion of A Solway Symphony in 1911 McEwen’s principal occupation was chamber music. His nineteen surviving string quartets and seven sonatas for violin and piano are central works in his output. In addition he produced a memorable body of music for piano, a Fantasy-Quintet for strings and a number of innovative string trios in the 1940s.

McEwen began work on the Violin Sonata No. 2 while resting in Cap Ferret, a seaside village outside Bourdeaux, in June 1913. However it was not completed until December 1914. It is most influenced by the music of Franck and Chausson, though in comparison with Franck’s Violin Sonata it is less luxuriant and more economical. In common with most of his mature music, the sonata shows McEwen’s reaction to the high French Romantic tradition analogous to that of the Impressionists Debussy and Ravel

The Fifth Sonata is the masterpiece of McEwen’s œuvres for violin and piano. The manuscript score is dated 1 October 1921 and dedicated to violinist Albert Sammons. In contrast with the Second Sonata’s meditative sadness, the Fifth expresses the joy and celebration of a long-awaited homecoming. It is in two movements, the first being the larger and more complex whilst the second is a straightforward rondo.

McEwen’s productivity was considerably reduced with his unexpected appointment as Principal of the Royal Academy of Music in 1924. The passions and innovations of form are absent from the Sixth Sonata (1929). He writes a traditional sonata-allegro and, in common with the Haydn prototype, the second theme is closely derived from the first. The tonality is a bright G major with pentatonic and modal inflections, the harmonic style not unlike a cross between early Debussy and Fauré.

With its use of Jacobite tunes, and its casting in the form of a traditional rhapsody, Prince Charlie is just a reminder that the aforenamed attracted a constellation of music and lyrics unparalleled by any of Britain’s Monarchs, though the origins of these folk-tunes stretch back many centuries.
Reviews

‘Charlier and Tozer turn in splendidly spirited performances in excellent sound’.
BBC Music Magazine

'This attractive program, easy on the ear, will please all British music lovers.'
The Delian (Delius Society)

This attractive program, easy on the ear, will please all British music lovers.
The Delian (Delius Society)

‘…Geoffrey Tozer and Olivier Charlier.. are revealed as most sympathetic performers’.
The Strad

‘A disc no Anglophile can possibly overlook.’
Fanfare

‘This is quite a discovery. Purchasers of Chandos’ two previous McEwen discs… will know that the Scottish head of the RAM was not merely a distinguished administrator but a gifted and original orchestral composer.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9669 (Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity)

‘…well played and superbly recorded…’
Fanfare on CHAN 9241 (Three Border Ballads)

‘Olivier Charlier and Geoffrey Tozer play these beautiful sonatas with beautiful tone and feeling, and the recording is lovely.’
American Record Guide

‘The performances… are outstanding, a well-deserved tribute to a neglected composer who was far more than an academic. The recording is sumptuously atmospheric.’
The Penguin Guide Yearbook on CHAN 9345 (A Solway Symphony etc.)

 

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