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Selected Review


CD

Romanza

David Matthews: Adonis, Op.105; Aria for Violin and Piano, Op.41; Romanza for Violin and Piano, Op 119a/Fauré: Violin Sonata in A, Op 13; Romance in B-flat, Op 28
Sara Trickey, violin/Daniel Tong, piano

*****Deux-Elles DXL 1172 [66’]

Romanza

Combining Fauré with David Matthews does not immediately spring to mind but, in his liner notes, Matthews expresses admiration for Fauré, and both composers impress with an unforced lyricism and romantic impulse.

This content was carefully chosen by Sara Trickey, violin and her piano partner, Daniel Tong. Both have championed Matthews over many years and, in return Trickey has had works, including Adonis, written for her.

It is somewhat ironic that here we have shorter pieces by the symphonic master Matthews (his Ninth Symphony will be premiered in 2018) and a big, though early ambitious sonata by the generally accepted master miniaturist, Fauré (as heard in his delicious songs and piano works); so we have another reason for paying attention to the content on this CD.

In his note Matthews describes himself as “A romantic composer who uses classical forms”. Well should we, therefore, expect a set of short works with an abundance of good tunes?

Perhaps, except these “tunes” come with a complete absence of sugar so that when a melody (and there are lots of them here) appears we must listen carefully for the derivation. This is not the romance of Tchaikovsky but the post-modern gleam of emotion as procured by a musical mind that admits its share of steel in the fabric of the melodic impulse.

There is a simplification of the structure to Matthews’s melodies in his recent Romanza where he inserts, bravely but entirely appropriately, a waltz in 3/4 time in the middle section.

There are many works in Matthews’s extensive catalogue that derive their impulse from various mythological sources and Adonis is one of them. Premiered by Trickey at the 2007 Presteigne Festival, this three movement work combines, cunningly, the story of Venus and Adonis with a Welsh folksong (the inclusion of which was requested by the original commission). Matthews’s fertility of imagination is up to his usual high standard and the work impresses with music of ardour and mystery. Listen out for the many influences in the violin part, all carefully crafted into an original piece that has now been frequently performed.

Aria is more challenging for the violin in its use of chords, two-part counterpoint and harmonics. As such it allows Trickey to demonstrate her virtuosity and projection skills. The Romanza of 2012 is simply an adorable addition to a truly modern skill possessed by Matthews in imparting lyricism and emotional warmth without in any way diminishing its appeal to ears that need more than a simple tune. Here there are plenty of ear tickling sounds that are played with just the right amount of romantic impulse by both players.

The Fauré requires a genuine partnership between violin and piano and Trickey and Tong give a full-blooded account of one of the French master’s best attempts at a big boned structure full of felicities and heart-warming moments. There are four substantial movements each defined with different elements that make for a satisfying whole.

The delightful Romance in B-flat is beautifully shaped and projected by both Trickey and Tong, a genuine partnership of like minds in this repertoire and here captured in a warm, though occasionally over-reverberative acoustic.

Perhaps a more “Romantic” picture for the cover of a CD titled Romanza than the rather wistful image we see could help with sales, but the music is the thing and the music here is absolutely splendid.

Edward Clark

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