Reizenstein, Bush & Ireland: Sonatas for Violin & Piano

All three of these works were written at times of war. John Ireland's sonata was composed during World War One (1917) and was the work that established Ireland as a composer of note in the UK. The Franz Reizenstein and Geoffrey Bush sontatas come later, composed in 1945, and are far less well known. While all three works maintain a sense of melody and tonality, each composer finds room push boundaries. Bush's sonata receives its premiere recording in this release.


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This triptych of British violin sonatas bears a wartime theme. Ireland’s A minor famously elevated his name to prestige on its 1917 premiere, whereas the sonatas by Geoffrey Bush - this is its premiere recording - and Franz Reizenstein date from 1945.

Cast in one movement, the 18-minute sonata by Bush has hardly ever been performed. Its sense of chromatic flux is attractive and so too is its ripe lyricism. It’s unsettled, constantly flitting nature is underpinned by taut rhythm and the slow material is full of pathos. A little festive, fresh-faced dance section announces the “finale” in delightful fashion. The nervous nature of the work is very well brought out.

Possibly Reizenstein’s best-known violin work is the 1939 Prologue, Variations and Finale. Its emotive states journey from a taut terseness reminiscent of Hindemith to a more explicit lyric vein. If there are hints of Shostakovich in the fast central movement, it is because of the percussive drama of the writing, and not least the violin’s furtive song set against the piano’s more combative persona. The misterioso finale is well conveyed in this performance. The violin’s grave musing alternates with more sinewy writing; this quasi-impressionist element is highly effective. Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb-International

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