A new survey of British violin repertoire begins in fine style
Feeling out of sympathy with modern trends, Howard Ferguson (1908–99) decided to abandon composition at the mid-point of his life – an acute loss to British music. That fact is made abundantly clear in his 1946 Second Violin Sonata, a work couched in a colourful and outgoing Romantic language. It finds an ideal champion in Tasmin Little, whose performance bristles with technical brilliance in the outer movements, and who allows the musical sparks to fly in the dialogue with the excellent pianist Piers Lane.
The demands made by Walton are more introverted, since his two-movement Sonata often requires delicacy in the second movement’s theme, variations and finale. Though the music does not always fall easily under the fingers, Little’s intonation is impeccable throughout, with the piquancy of the spiky moments perfectly conveyed.
Britten was 23 when he completed his quirky Suite. Revealing him still flexing his musical muscles, it presents Little with a difficult task, which she admirably fulfils, of capturing many differing moods, including a seductive waltz.
Acting as an encore, Walton’s Two Pieces make a happy conclusion to a hugely enjoyable disc. With the acoustic of a large empty room, there is a good balance between instruments.