Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

ELGAR & BRIDGE Sonatas   Lowri Blake, cello & Iwan Llewelyn-Jones, piano LOWRI RECORDS 2000 * [55:02]

Edward Elgar: Sonata in E minor, op. 82 (1919 - transcribed for cello and piano by Lowri Blake 1994) / Frank Bridge: Morning Song (1918), Sonata in D minor (1913-17)

Real audio samples and purchase from


In 1918-1919, at Brinkwells cottage in Sussex, Elgar wrote his final completed major works. The Violin Sonata, op. 82 was followed by the String Quartet in E Minor, the Quintet for Piano and Strings in A Minor and the Cello Concerto, op.85. Perhaps inevitably, given that they were written under the shadow of the Great War, all four works imbued with a deep melancholy. In the notes accompanying this CD, Lowri Blake records on first hearing a concert performance of the Violin Sonata: "The dark, noble and highly evocative Violin Sonata might easily have been written for cello. By the end of the performance I had resolved to play the Violin Sonata myself on the cello…"

A very accomplished musician and singer - for more information about Ms Blake and Lowri Records see my review of The Song of the Black Swan, or visit the web site at - Lowri Blake made the transcription used for this CD herself, first recording it for Radio 3 in 1994. As she says, "Transcribing op.82 for cello was in fact not a difficult task - I simply play the violin part down an octave…" There are also some other few changes, but like Frank's Violin Sonata in A, the work transposes well to the new instrument. It is a work of darkly colour romantic intensity, retaining all it's Elgarian character in transcription, yet inevitably now becoming something of a more intimate companion to the Cello Concerto. The deeper tones of the cello express perhaps a more mature, more profound sense of resignation to loss than the violin, an instrument in the upper registers more inclined more youthfully overwrought passion.

Lowri Blake clearly has a great love of this music, and her playing is always thoughtfully considered, her phrasing flowing with a natural sense of argument and development. Praise is also due for Iwan Llewelyn-Jones sensitive and apposite musicianship. This is a demanding work, and both players give fine performances. It obviously makes most sense to have a version of the sonata in its original form first, but this interpretation shines fresh light into Elgar's melancholy heart, and I am most pleased to be able to include it in my collection.

The disc intelligently links the Elgar with two works from the same period by Frank Bridge. First, Morning Song again composed in the latter stages of the Great War, this short work is a piece of clear and expressive beauty. The cello does indeed sing in this perfectly formed miniature.

Bridge's Sonata in D Minor is in two, rather than three movements, and written over a period of four years from 1913-17, appears to have been something of a struggle for the composer. Here is Bridge between the romanticism of the past, and the more modern style of his later music. The opening Allegro both agitated, yet introspective, the closing Adagio ghostly, the piano in this recording taking a spectral life, as if afforded a glimpse of the next world, the cello voicing almost a frozen incomprehension. Confidently realising the space between notes as much as the notes themselves, Lowri Blake and Lwan Llewelyn-Jones bring an insight to this haunted, impassioned music which crosses the generations to offer a vision of a vanished world. Heartrending, almost unbearably moving, this is very fine music-making indeed. The three works together make an excellent programme, a most commendable and inspired release from this creative new label.


Gary S. Dalkin

Visit the Frank Bridge web pages



Gary S. Dalkin

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index