Recordings

Healey Willan Violin Sonata, Mov 2
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Healey Willan Violin Sonata, Mov 2

Healey Willan – Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor Recorded March 18th 2019 in Walter Hall Performers: Gwyneth Thomson Gary Forbes Healey Willan, a Toronto-based composer, organist, choirmaster and teacher, was a cornerstone in the musical community throughout the twentieth century. He held many prominent positions in Toronto including head of theory at the Toronto Conservatory, organist of St Paul’s, lecturer at the University of Toronto, music director of the Hart House Theatre, and precentor of St Mary Magdalene, a position which he held from 1921 to his death in 1968. Although most of his compositional output is confined to choral music, he had a well-rounded musical education and composed several large orchestral and choral works featuring lush Romantic melodies, chromatic idioms and heavy scoring. He wrote two violin sonatas, one in E minor and the other in E major. There are also numerous sketches for string quartets, and a piano Trio in B minor which was well received at the premiere, but part of which has since been lost. The Sonata in E minor, composed in 1916, follows traditional sonata structure, fast slow fast, and is fairly romantic in nature. The first movement features recitative-like sections interspersed between a marcato melody in 3/4 time. The second movement introduces a lilting melody in Db major, followed by a more breathless iteration in E major before a chromatic return to the original Db major melody. The final movement is a delicate but feisty Allegro molto featuring ricochet bowing and insistent trills. It is impish and dance-like, moving from 6/8 time to a more waltz like 9/8. It has a dramatic but joyous conclusion reached through broad 16th note running notes and ascending chromatic figures.
Nikolai Kapustin Violin Sonata, Mov 1
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Nikolai Kapustin Violin Sonata, Mov 1

Nikolai Kapustin – Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 70 Recorded March 18th 2019 in Walter Hall Performers: Gwyneth Thomson Gary Forbes The works of Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin are part of a stylistic trend which pairs jazz with more formalized western classical music. This synthesis is a perceptible attempt to interpret the traditions of composers like George Gershwin or Duke Ellington with Russian piano music. Kapustin focused his investigations on this fusion style in several large-scale works including several Concertos, a Sinfonietta, Chamber Symphony and three sonatas for Violin, Viola and Cello respectively. These works combine the rhythmic vitality of big band writing with all the complexity and classical structures of a traditional chamber piece. Complex rhythmic figures and improvisatory passages blend with soaring classical melodies and structure to create a unique blend of garish refinement. This Sonata, his only composition for violin and piano, was written in 1992 and is classically tripartite. The opening theme in the violin dominates the first movement, pairing with a more relaxed and funky melody, which is written in straight notation and not designed to be swung like a typical jazz chart. The second movement, a languid and pointillistic shuffle, showcases pizzicato and off the string techniques and has a somewhat unbalanced feel through the repetition of an ostinato remark. The third movement, whilst employing a jazz temperament, displays many characteristics reminiscent of Prokofiev or Shostakovich. Kapustin often plays with the sense of time and, though written largely in a duple meter, this last movement’s hemiolas and odd accented beats keep the listener guessing as to the rhythmic structure.
John Corigliano Violin Sonata, Mov 3
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John Corigliano Violin Sonata, Mov 3

John Corigliano – Sonata for Violin and Piano Recorded March 18th 2019 at Walter Hall Performers: Gwyneth Thomson Gary Forbes This beautiful sonata, his first work published, gained significant attention after it was chosen unanimously from more than one hundred entries at the 1964 Spoleto Festival Competition. It was dedicated to his father John Corigliano Sr. who was the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for twenty three years, and his mother, an accomplished concert pianist. Born in 1939 in New York City, he has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation, and is perhaps best known for his score to the Francois Giraud 1997 film “The Red Violin” for which he won an Academy Award. The work is in four movements the first, a burst of rhythmic action, is peppered with several brief lyric lines. A terse, three minute whirlwind, it builds to a peak at the far reaches of the instrument and finally ends with a cheeky Bartok pizz. The second movement begins with a beautiful lyrical section reminiscent of Ravel or Bernstein. The theme is developed in a passionate middle section, becoming more declamatory in character before returning to the serene quality of the opening statement. Though there are many metric changes throughout the movement, the melody caries through, breathless and lush. The third movement is very serious and dramatic, conversation-like in the interactions between piano and violin. The theme is built in intensity to a violin cadenza, the movement closing with a disquieted resignation, the open interval failing to provide a major or minor conclusion. The final movement is a modified rondo, joyous and high spirited. It launches ahead right from the onset, running passagework deftly passing back and forth between the two instruments. A lyrical theme provides a degree of respite, weaving back and forth again through a series of complex meters. After a short piano cadenza, the violin enters again with the original theme, building to an enigmatic and forceful climax and ending with a strident and somewhat percussive close at the bottom of both instruments.