Eloquent and elegant advocate for knottily complex music

Ferneyhough cuckson

The Strad Issue: February 2018  
Description: Eloquent and elegant advocate for knottily complex music  
Musicians: Miranda Cuckson (violin)  
Works: FERNEYHOUGH Unsichtbare Farben; Intermedio alla ciaccona. CARTER Four Lauds. WOLPE Second Piece for Violin Alone; Piece in Two Parts for Violin Alone  
Catalogue Number: URLICHT AUDIOVISUAL UAV 5979

With its irrational rhythms, ceaselessly changing articulations and restless dynamics, a score by notorious new complexicist Brian Ferneyhough can appear a forbidding prospect. US violinist Miranda Cuckson, however, brings an almost conversational elegance and easy approachability (well, kind of) to two Ferneyhough works on this rewarding disc of solo violin music. She enunciates his Unsichtbare Farben beautifully, with an effortless sense of clarity across the rapidly changing modes of playing, and she’s alive, too, to the almost Baroque brilliance of his endlessly inventive violin writing. The downside is that she thereby perhaps underplays the work’s contrasts slightly, reducing dynamics and character to a somewhat narrow band, but that’s not a problem in her hugely passionate account of Ferneyhough’s Intermedio alla ciaccona that closes the disc – thoughtful, but fiery and spontaneous too.

In between, Cuckson delivers a beautifully considered, characterful reading of Elliott Carter’s Four Lauds, miniature portraits of friends – she’s especially vivid in Carter’s radiant tribute to Copland, alternating punchy, rugged figurations with expansive, broad lines, given all the space they need. She’s radiantly clear, too, in the two pieces by Stefan Wolpe, and expertly negotiates the restlessly fluid material of his Piece in Two Parts for Violin Alone. Recorded sound is close and detailed.