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Madeleine Mitchell - Violin Songs
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Chanson de Matin Op.15 No.2 (1899) [3:07]
Chanson de Nuit Op.15 No.1 (1897) [3:30]
Salut d' Amour Op 12 (1888) [3:08]
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Die Nachtigall (1907) transcribed Madeleine Mitchell [2:12]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Mélodie (1911) [3:44]
Morceau Caracteristque (1907-08) [6:55]
Amaryllis (1905) [2:18]
Romanze (1904) [4:28]
Spring Song (1912) [2:20]
Moto Perpetuo (1900) [1:46]
Berceuse (1901) [2:46]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Berceuse sur le Nom de Fauré (1922) [2:42]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1893-1953)
Cinq Mélodies op.35b (1920 transcribed 1925) [12:56]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Méditation from Thaïs (1894) [4:47]
Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918)
Nocturne (1911) [2:56]
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
Nocturne (1926) [5:20]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Violon (1939 - transcribed Madeleine Mitchell) [2:04]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Ave Maria D 839 (1825) arranged by Johannes Palatschko [5:32]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Morgen Op.27 No.4 (1894 orchestrated 1897) [4:16] *
Madeleine Mitchell (violin)
Andrew Ball (piano)
Elizabeth Watts (soprano) *
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, May 2007 
DIVINE ART DDA25063 [76:50]

It’s good to see Madeleine Mitchell back in the recording studios with increasing frequency – first the recent Alwyn-Naxos chamber disc (8.570340 - see review) and now a solo recital from her for Divine Art. As she writes in her notes these song-like melodies are mainly, though not exclusively, Anglo-French; Copland’s piece was written in Paris.
Admirers of Frank Bridge will note the contents with interest; interest will then turn to outright enthusiasm for there’s a world premiere recording here of the Morceau Caracteristque, long believed lost, but which resurfaced in 2006 in the May Harrison collection at the Royal College of Music in London. Harrison had first performed it with Hamilton Harty at the Bechstein Hall, as the Wigmore was then known. As Mitchell notes this is an altogether more virtuosic vehicle than the other six Bridge morceaux collected on this disc. She characterises it as a dramatic ballad more than a character or salon piece with a Wieniawski-like coda. That’s fair enough I think though I’d add that there is a fair amount of Iberian dash about it that probably derives from Sarasate. It was written around 1907 or 1908 and it would be good to find out (if possible) exactly when, as Sarasate died in 1908. The rest of the Bridge selection is charmingly done. The Melodie is most sympathetically played – alternately lyric and bold – whilst the Romanze is precisely that. I went back to Henri Temianka’s 1937 Parlophone 78 of the Moto perpetuo to see what that wizard made of it. Crikey. He got through it in a rocketing 1:11 making it sound like a first cousin of Rimsky’s bumblebee. Mitchell is much more sedate and takes 1:46. I might as well admit I rather miss Temianka’s naughty, almost daemonic velocity – it makes it a real showcase. 
Mitchell makes some emotive finger position changes in Salut d’amour, which is expressive without become treacly and unfolds her own arrangement of Berg’s song Die Nachtigall with chaste intimacy. Her Prokofiev is less sculpted and projected than, say, Tretiakov whose Russian take is hotter blooded and whose pizzicati ring out and are more cutting and jagged in the Lento (No.2). There’s more obvious colour and personality and a bigger and showier bow arm as well. But Mitchell’s more intimate playing brings its own rewards if you shun more strutting and masculine traversals of the Cinq Mélodies.
Mitchell and Ball refuse to make a meal out of the Massenet and programme the Poulenc (originally a song) and the Ravel well together. The Schubert is something of a Massenet reprise in this performance – similarly refined and unostentatious. A small novelty is the arrangement by Johannes Palatschko where the figuration toward the end adds some variety. Finally there’s the Strauss where the duo is joined by soprano Elizabeth Watts for a refined piece of work.
Collectors will know that a number of the competing Bridge performances are played in their viola arrangements – the Louise Williams/David Owen Norris ASV for instance - which makes this violin selection of the seven all the more welcome.
Throughout Andrew Ball, with whom Mitchell has played as a duo for so many years, proves a subtle colourist. The Potton Hall recording is warm and naturally balanced and I like the booklet, which has some imaginative photographic touches. 
Jonathan Woolf


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