SOMM Recordings’ The Deeper the Blue offers an intriguing exploration of colour and timbre in music and a revealing investigation of the connections between four very different composers over a near-100-year period.
Taking its title from painter Wassily Kandinsky’s assertion that a deepening colour ultimately “turns into silent stillness and becomes white”, the recording illuminates the intimate relationship between student and teacher: Vaughan Williams and Maurice Ravel, Kenneth Hesketh with Henri Dutilleux and the influence on Dutilleux of Ravel.
Hailed by The Washington Post for her “riveting” playing and “exquisite tone”, virtuoso violinist Janet Sung and the Britten Sinfonia – one of the UK’s “most flexible chamber orchestras” (Evening Standard) – make their SOMM debuts alongside long-time label artists, conductor Jac van Steen and pianist Simon Callaghan, the latter partnering Sung in Ravel’s jazz- and Blues-accented Sonata for Violin and Piano. The last chamber music Ravel composed, it is a colouristic extravaganza brimfull with joy and irrepressible energy.
The harmonic language of Dutilleux’s piano suite Au gré des ondes boasts a wide colour palette enhanced in brilliance and charm by his former pupil Kenneth Hesketh’s orchestral arrangement, here in its first recording. Harmonic and instrumental colour is central to Hesketh’s own music.
Also receiving its first recording, and composed in 2016 for Janet Sung, Hesketh’s Inscription-Transformation for violin and orchestra is a richly intricate weaving together of the textures and tones of violin and orchestra. Commemorating Dutilleux and Hesketh’s grandmother, who died during its composition, it’s a febrile, endlessly mutating work that pits stratospheric violin against agitated orchestra in music as complex as it is gratifying in the intensity of its expression.
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ compact, muscular, Bach-influenced Concerto for Violin and Orchestra combines meditative repose with dance-like extroversion, Maurice Ravel’s ever-popular Tzigane a fiery, virtuosic homage to Hungarian folk music.
On This Recording
Ralph Vaughan Williams
- I. Allegro pesante
- II. Adagio – Tranquillo
- III. Presto
- Inscription-Transformation* ac
- I. Prélude en berceuse (à Claude Pascal)
- II. Claquettes (à Jacqueline Bonneau)
- III. Improvisation (à Pierre Sancan)
- IV. Mouvement perpétuel (à Leon Kartun)
- V. Hommage à Bach (à Claude Arrieu)
- VI. Étude (à Geneviève Joy)
- I. Allegretto
- II. Blues – Moderato
- III. Perpetuum mobile- Allegro
Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra ac [16:58]
Au gré des ondes (arr. Hesketh)*
Maurice Ravel ac
Sonata for Violin and Piano ab
a Janet Sung, violin
b Simon Callaghan, piano
c Jac van Steen, conductor
“Janet Sung gives a very comprehensive account… technically adept and musically very fine. She is exceptionally well partnered by the Britten Sinfonia, and they play… with equal mastery… one of the finest accounts of [Ravel’s Sonata]… I have heard. Simon Callaghan is Janet Song’s consistently admirable partner. The recordings capture the varied instrumentation exceptionally well.” —Robin Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion Quarterly
“Janet Sung shines in the lyrical episodes of Vaughan Williams’s Violin Concerto, most especially in the beautiful Adagio – Tranquillo central movement. … Kenneth Hesketh’s richly colourful and evocative orchestral soundscapes… complement Sung’s by turns gleaming harmonics, bird-like song and yearning lyricism. … Sung and the Britten Sinfonia play Ravel’s lush orchestral version of Tzigane with relish. … [In Ravel’s Sonata] Sung is superbly partnered by Simon Callaghan, who by artful pedalling makes the piano appear to ‘bend’ its notes in the ‘Blues’ movement. … a most fascinating and enjoyable programme.” —Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine