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Elgar & Sawyers Violin Sonatas



If at first glance the pairing of Sawyers with Elgar seems strange, it is worth considering the similar musical environment in which all three works were written. Both composers were compelled to write in their own very individual style which proved unfashionable within musical circles for some of their career. Indeed much of Sawyers’s output was initially dismissed for failing to embrace the more esoteric, experimental and avantgarde techniques embraced by many of his contemporaries. Sawyers has always been compelled to write music that he “could hear” with every note serving an expressive purpose. Similarly, by 1918 Elgar had become dejected with the modernist trends already gaining momentum in Europe and would write very little for the final 20 years of his life. For Sawyers, a busy professional life as a violinist in the Royal Opera House Orchestra left a 20 year hiatus in his output and this disc marks the first commercial release of his chamber music.

Elgar & Sawyers Violin Sonatas


"The Steinberg Duo prove passionately committed advocates not only of Sawyer's works but of the Elgar too...It is good to welcome two works to the repertory that deserve to be widely performed." Edward Greenfield, Gramophone Magazine, December 2013

"The Steinberg Duo do the two pieces proud." Michael Round, International Record Review, March 2014 

"In short, no amount of writing can do justice to the last three tracks on this disc. One simply must listen to the Steinberg Duo's interpretation of the famed English composer's work. (The first movement is especially impressive.) As for Sawyers" music, it's certainly worthy of an attentive ear. Consider it the apéritif to an exquisite entrée.' Andrew Schartmann,, 24 February 2014

"The name Philip Sawyers is likely only be to be a household name to very few classical connoisseurs in Central Europe. Perhaps it is connected with the fact that there are so far only two CDs of his work available to buy: The present here - and a disc which features, among others, his first symphony. But these few works available on audio are sufficient to expel Sawyer as one of the truly great British composers. His first Violin Sonata, written by the composer, (born in London in 1951) when he was just 18 years old, is a stroke of genius without exaggeration. The rhythmic and dynamic desolate rugged, this highly dramatic and thrilling with every fiber of work may be here and there think of examples like Shostakovich, but it is quite audible on their own feet and captivates still more with every listen. And the same goes for his work of 42 years later, the second violin sonata of 2011, although the early sonata does not arise, despite their compositional mastery in the shadows, rather just the opposite is the case. At the end of the CD followed by Edward Elgar's Violin Sonata, then the British classics for the occupation violin and piano. The interpretations of the Steinberg duo are simply phenomenal. So lucid, passionate and unsentimental make the works sparkle. A great CD and a real find." (English Translation) Music und Theater, January 2014

"Those looking for a fine performance of Elgar’s Violin Sonata with an unusual yet extremely rewarding coupling should look to a new recording from Nimbus Alliance thatincludes two fine Violin Sonatas by Philip Sawyers' Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer, October 2013

"A good performance of the Elgar coupled with a chance to hear two powerful, unashamedly unfashionable, modern works."

"Taken as a whole, this CD is an excellent addition to the violin sonata repertoire. Respectable, honest, down-to-earth serial music … a subtle balance between dissonance and consonance, controlled structure and moments of sheer inspiration." John France,, November 2013