ELIZABETH MACONCHY (1907-1994): Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2, GILES SWAYNE (b.1946): Duo, Op. 20, Echo, Op. 78, Farewell, Op. 151, NICOLA LEFANU (b.1946): Abstracts and a Frame (All First Recordings).
Catalogue Number: 03W053
Label: Resonus Classics
Description: Written in 1927 when she was a student of Vaughan Williams (five years before her first string quartet) the first sonata is Maconchy’s first mature work. Several of her early pieces had already attracted attention; but none displays the remarkable originality of this piece, which heralds many characteristics of her later style. The harmonic idiom is bold, emphasizing tritones and unresolved dissonances; and she explores irregular meter and cross-rhythms, creating a counterpoint of rhythms and lines. But the most striking and characteristic feature of the piece (as of all Maconchy’s mature work) is its intensity of concentration and of feeling. The second sonata was composed in 1943, during the war years. The differences between this sonata and the first are marked: the youthful exuberance of her early works has given way to a more searching and troubled language – the ‘passionate argument’ that Maconchy herself described as characteristic of her chamber music. This sonata is perhaps less free and innovative than the first, but it is more accomplished: concertante writing has given way to a confidently textured idiom, sharing musical ideas more equally between the players. The other big work is Swayne’s Duo from 1975, the form of which was derived from a doodle the composer made of a photograph of the Loch Ness Monster. As Swayne says. “The result is a single-movement piece which opens in wild extravagance, disintegrates into unsynchronized lunacy, and is then pared gradually away to a gentle ending. It is a highly physical piece which makes massive demands on both performers.” Malu Lin (violin), Giles Swayne (piano).