Jonathan Morton was born in Brussels in 1976.
And Yehudi Menuhin, whose school Morton attended from 1989 to
1993, records in his introduction, his great pleasure that a
'real Belgian' has taken up the music of Lekeu, a composer whose
music Menuhin was introduced to by none other than Alfred Cortot.
Truly this music sings with a blissful intensity. Carole Presland
does not short-change us in the the dramatic passages of which
there are quite a few. The sonata was written when the composer
was 22 to a commission by Ysaye. It is a lion-hearted work -
but it is the heart of a young lion! The work echoes with the
voices of Franck, Rachmaninov, Fauré and Medtner. Morton
has plenty of gutsy attack, dynamic variety and can conjure
a silky line when he wants. The finale provides ample imaginative
kindling with effect after effect thrown under the violinist's
feet. Morton is surefooted though his tone leans on the slender
side. I can imagine Oistrakh being riper in this music.
Morton and Presland excel in the Delage-like
exoticism of the Szymanowski La fontaine d'Aréthuse.
This is a showpiece for all young violinists and I recall
a wonderful performance by Kaja Danczowska on DG. In this music,
which is just as concerned with the instrumentalists' sensitivity
to imagination as with overt technical brilliance, Szymanowski
is in the same territory as the First Violin Concerto; both
his own and that of Prokofiev. I rather regret that Szymanowski
did not orchestrate the Mythes of which the 'poem' forms
part. This would make a wonderful project for Oliver Knussen.
The textures are beautifully rendered by Presland as well as
Morton and reach out irresistibly towards the orchestra. [track
4 from start]
The two part Suk Ballade falls into
a Tchaikovskian quasi ballata and a vivacious appassionato.
This is the less care-worn Suk of the Serenade for Strings
rather than of Asrael.
The quarter hour Violin Sonata of Debussy also
works extremely well in the care of Morton and Presland. The
Finale comes complete with the flavour of French folksong. [track
9 from start]
The recital is strongly recommended.