Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Peter Racine FRICKER
Violin Sonata No. 1 Op. 12 (1951)
Violin Sonata No. 2 Op. 94 (1986-87)
Violin Sonata (1958)
Violin Sonata in A minor
Susanne Stanzeleit (violin)/Julian Jacobson (piano)
rec 18-20 July 1995, St Michael's Church, Highgate
CALA UNITED CACD88036 [77.52]
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Vaughan Williams' violin sonata dedicated to Joseph Szigeti is a late work written in 1954. In many respects it is a curious piece. It opens with a "structurally impressive Fantasia" (Michael Kennedy), followed by a brilliant Scherzo, "one of Vaughan Williams' most rhythmically interesting movements" (MK) and ends with a set of variations, the theme of which comes from an early piano quintet (1903). An uneven, though very attractive piece invested with considerable passion by both players. Stanzeleit studied under Végh, Kogan and Milstein).

Rawsthorne's violin sonata was written in 1958 and is one of his happiest achievements, full of invention and imagination. "The four movements are terse and the cyclic links between them are instantly audible and telling, without making themselves tiresome" (Colin Mason after the first public performance in Cheltenham in 1960).

Peter Racine Fricker's violin sonatas were composed almost at both ends of his creative life (No. 1, 1951; No. 2, 1987) and give ample evidence of Fricker's stylistic journey. The first sonata is a compact and serious work in which echoes of Bartók may be heard and is clearly a product of Fricker's early years. It shares more than one common characteristic with other early works such as his first violin concerto (Op. 11 1951) and the first symphony (Op. 9 1948/9). It is in three movements: a terse Allegro, a beautiful Allegretto (comme un'valse distante) and a moving final Adagio.

The second violin sonata was written between 1986 and 1987 and received its first performance in Cardiff in November 1988. At that time Fricker (1920-1990) had settled in the States (he left England in about 1964) and his style had changed considerably. Some complained that Fricker's late music had mellowed and had thus become more soft-grained. It seems to me that his music actually acquired more subtlety when compared with his more uncompromising early music though the structural grip and the sureness of touch remained. His later music seems more lyrical, more expansive and warmer.

The second violin sonata falls into four movements: Strongly - Broad opening in a declamatory way but ending on a meditative note; a brilliant nervous Presto; a beautifully lyrical Andante cantabile and a broad poco allegro offsetting the opening movement.

Fricker's violin sonatas certainly are fine pieces of music that should be heard more often for each contains some of Fricker's finest music. This very fine release offers the first modern recordings of Fricker's long neglected music. I hope this leads to a renewed interest in the music of a deeply serious, distinguished composer who deserves to be better known.

Hubert Culot

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