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Madeleine Mitchell – Violin Conversations (FLAC)

Madeleine Mitchell - Violin Conversations (FLAC)
Madeleine Mitchell – Violin Conversations (FLAC)

Composer: Richard Blackford, Howard Blake, Martin Butler, Wendy Hiscocks, Joseph Horovitz, Douglas Knehans, Kevin Malone, Thea Musgrave, Alan Rawsthorne, Errollyn Wallen
Performer: Madeleine Mitchell, Andrew Ball, Errollyn Wallen, Wendy Hiscocks, Nigel Clayton, Martin Butler, Kevin Malone, Howard Blake
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Naxos
Catalogue: 8574560
Release: 2023
Size: 328 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Rawsthorne: Violin Sonata (1959)
01. I. Adagio – Allegro non troppo
02. II. Allegretto
03. III. Toccata. Allegro di bravura
04. IV. Epilogue. Adagio rapsodico

05. Horovitz: Dybbuk Melody
06. Wallen: Sojourner Truth
07. Hiscocks: Caprice
08. Hiscocks: Dry White Fire
09. Knehans: Mist Waves

Musgrave: Colloquy
10. I. —
11. II. —
12. III. —
13. IV. —

14. Butler: Barcarolles
15. Blackford: Worlds Apart
16. Malone: Your Call is Important to Us
17. Blake: The Ice Princess and the Snowman, Op. 699

Violinist Madeleine Mitchell has inspired new works from a variety of composers, many of whom share connections of various kinds. ‘Conversations’ sit at the heart of an album in which four pianist composers join Mitchell to perform their works. The music ranges from Alan Rawsthorne’s quicksilver 1958 Violin Sonata, heard here in a BBC broadcast to honour Mitchell’s two-decade partnership with the late Andrew Ball, to Thea Musgrave’s vivid Colloquy. The sequence of atmospheric, communicative pieces from contemporary composers explores natural phenomena, songs of freedom, telephonic frustration and a pas de deux love duet.

Some of the “violin conversations” on this release by violinist Madeleine Mitchell are genuine conversations between individuals, with their composers accompanying Mitchell on the piano. Even those for which this is not true represent some kind of connection between Mitchell and the composer or the other performer, dating back to a 1996 recording of Alan Rawsthorne’s 1958 violin sonata played by Mitchell and her longtime performing partner Andrew Ball. The result of this idea is a commendably varied set of selections where it may fairly be said that if listeners do not enjoy one thing, something else coming around the corner more to their liking. Styles range from the hardcore modernism of Thea Musgrave’s absolutely appropriate Colloquy (1960), to the violin golden-age Dybbuk Melody of Joseph Horovitz (Mitchell’s lecturer at the Royal College of Music), to the jazz- and spiritual-influenced Sojourner Truth (commissioned by Mitchell in 2021), and the postmodern Your Call Is Important to Us for violin and tape (2022, also composed for Mitchell). Many of the new works were products of the COVID-19 pandemic, where connections between composers and performers were among the few artistic stimuli available when things were at their worst. Mitchell’s performances give each work its due despite their variety, and the sound from a great number of different recordings is reasonably well mastered. An album that does as well as any other at surveying a large group of contemporary trends.

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