Willem PIJPER (1894 – 1947)
Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano (1919) [14:04]
Sonata for Violin Solo (1931) [13:54]
Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano (1922) [15:35]
Rudolf ESCHER (1912 – 1980)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1950) [21:27]
Alexander VOORMOLEN (1895 – 1980)
Pastorale (1940) [5:14]
Ton de LEEUW (1926 – 1996)
Sonatina for Violin and Piano (1955) [6:18]
Philippe Graffin (violin); Jelger Blanken (piano)
rec. Westerkerk, Schiedam, The Netherlands, 16-18 December 2010
ONYX 4080 [78:45]

Here are four Dutch composers from different generations. They’re all linked to each other in one way or another. Both Pijper and Voormolen are exact contemporaries and studied with Wagenaar. Escher was a pupil of Pijper and De Leeuw was influenced by Pijper in the early stages of his composing career.

Willem Pijper is probably the most important and influential composer of his generation. His large and varied output includes operas, three symphonies and five string quartets as well as a number of orchestral and chamber works. It is still all-too-little known outside the Netherlands although a good deal of it has been and is still available on disc. Years ago Donemus devoted a series of discs to his music, including some 'historical' recordings. Pijper has the lion's share in this generous recital of Dutch violin sonatas. He is represented by his early First Violin Sonata still redolent of French aesthetics and by the considerably more mature Second Violin Sonata of 1922. More importantly we also get to hear his masterly Sonata for Violin Solo - first performed by none other than Zoltán Székely.

Rudolf Escher is one of the most distinguished composers of his generation, not only in the Netherlands but in European music at large. A number of his early works were destroyed during World War II but what remains is impressive enough to earn his music a deserved place in the repertoire. Orchestral works such a Musique pour l'esprit en deuil (1943), the Concerto for Strings (1947/8) and Hymne du Grand Meaulnes (1950/1) as well as some of his chamber works cry out for wider exposure. His Violin Sonata is on a grand scale while the emphasis is clearly on the long central movement.

Voormolen's Pastorale was originally composed for oboe and strings but was often played with piano accompaniment. There also exists a version for violin and piano heard here. It is clearly a simpler, more straightforward piece than any of the others recorded here. It is however well crafted and warmly tuneful and would make a perfect encore to any violin recital.

De Leeuw belongs to a somewhat younger generation than the others here. His mature music is rather forward-looking but his early Sonatina for Violin and Piano is still much indebted to Pijper and sometimes to Bartók. It, too, is another very attractive work that deserves to be heard.

This recital closes with an improvisation on a Dutch Christmas carol Midden in de winternacht. We are not told anything about it but may suppose that it is a collective essay concocted by Graffin and Blanken as befits an improvisation.

Performances and recording are excellent throughout, which makes this generously filled and ear-opening recital most welcome.

Hubert Culot

A generously filled recital of little known though worthwhile Dutch violin sonatas.