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Twentieth-Century Sonatas for Cello and Piano

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 251-2
Release Date: 06/01/2013
Number of Discs: 2
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Alexander Baillie, Cello
John Thwaites, Piano

In recent years SOMM has established a strong reputation for its promotion of British Music counting, among unique recordings in its catalogue, several prestigious World Premieres  which had been hidden in music library vaults unpublished and undiscovered until SOMM made them available on disc and promoted them worldwide through its distribution network. Included among these are the Vaughan Williams Fantasia,  Bax Concertino,  Frederick Austin Concertino, the William Mathias Piano Concerto No. 1, and the Piano Music of Reginald King.

This  impressive double disc is no exception. It boasts the well loved Cello Sonatas of Bridge, Delius, Ireland and Rubbra as well as two world premieres, the Cello Sonatas by Rebecca Clarke (1919) and Ivor Keys (1960). Clarke was Stanford’s first female pupil at RCM and became a professional violist, having taken lessons with Lionel Tertis. Listening to her Viola (or Cello) Sonata, described as “sensuous, Bacchanalian and intoxicating and languid” by turns, reminds us that she felt closest to the music of both Debussy and Ravel.

Keys was organ scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, and an accomplished all-round musician who made his career as an academic at the Universities of Belfast (where he held the first Hamilton Harty Chair from 1947), Nottingham (from 1954) and Birmignham (from 1968). His Cello Sonata which he dedicated to the cellist Maurice Eisenberg, (also a member of the Menuhin Trio with Yehudi and Hephzibah) has an impassioned, lyrical first movement, a Lento cantabile second movement which exploits ths singing tone of the instrument and a  substantial Theme and Variations in A, similar to those of the Rubbra Sonata.

The artists on this CD set are Cellist Alexander Baillie, internationally recognised as one of the finest cellists of his generation, and his Duo Partner, Pianist John Thwaites, Head of Keyboard Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, a busy Soloist as well as Chamber Musician and a frequent broadcaster for the BBC and others. It is interesting that Edmund Rubbra’s Cello Sonata (1946) is dedicated to William Pleeth, his cello partner in the Edmund Rubbra/Erich Gruenberg/William Pleeth Piano Trio. Alexander Baillie’s teachers were Fournier, Rostropovich, du Pré and most poignantly, William Pleeth.

Alexander Baillie

Described once as “Britain’s best kept secret” Alexander Baillie has become internationally recognised as one of the finest cellists of his generation. He studied at London’s Royal college of Music and then won a Sir James Caird scholarship to continue studies in the class of André Navarra in Vienna. He later studied with William Pleeth, Fournier and Rostropovich and with Jacqueline du Pré herself.

Since then his career has taken him all over the world and he has appeared with many British and European orchestras, working with Sir Simon Rattle and Sir John Eliot Gardiner among others. He has given notable first performances at the BBC Proms of works by Hans Werner Henze, Takemitsu and Colin Matthew’s, which had been dedicated to him. Recodings include the Tippett Triple concerto with the composer conducting and the Shostakovich First Concerto with Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic. His version of the Britten Cello Suites achieved the highest acclaim in the New York press. He is professor of Cello at the University of Bremen Hochschule für Künste.

John Thwaites

John Thwaites performs regularly in major Festivals and Halls across Europe, broadcasts regularly and has issued a string of critically acclaimed recordings. Early success came with the Park Lane Group, North West Arts’ Young Musicians’ Platform, and as a member of the Music Group of Manchester. As a member of the Primrose Piano Quartet he commissioned a new work from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies which he premiered at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival.

Alongside relationships with the Schidlof, Maggini, Emperor, Martinu and Dante Quartets, John also has a duo of fifteen years standing with the German cellist Johannes Goritzki, and also works with cellists Pierre  Doumenge, Louise Hopkins, Natalie Clein, Alexander Ivashkin, David Cohen, Oleg Kogan, Melissa Phelps, Li Wei, Robert Irvine, Alexander Boyarsky and Anna Shuttleworth.

John studied with Harvey Dagul, Sulamita Aronovsky, Renna Kelllaway, Paul Berkowitz, Martino Tirimo and Christian Blackshaw.

On This Recording

  1. Cello Sonata: I. Allegro ben moderato
  2. Cello Sonata: II. Adagio ma non troppo – Molto allegro e agitato – Adagio ma non troppo – Tempo I – Allegro moderato
  3. Cello Sonata
  4. Cello Sonata: I. Moderato e sostenuto
  5. Cello Sonata: II. Poco largamente
  6. Cello Sonata: III. Con moto e marcato – Meno mosso – Largamente – Più mosso
  7. Cello Sonata: I. Impetuoso: Poco agitato – Meno mosso – Largamente – Più mosso – Tempo I
  8. Cello Sonata: II. Vivace – Meno mosso – Tempo I
  9. Cello Sonata: III. Adagio – Allegro – Agitato – Comodo quasi pastorale – Quasi fantasia – Agitato – Più mosso
  10. Cello Sonata: I. Allegro ben moderato ma appassionato
  11. Cello Sonata: II. Lento cantabile
  12. Cello Sonata: III. Theme and Variations
  13. Cello Sonata: I. Andante moderato – con moto – Tempo I – a tempo II – a tempo I
  14. Cello Sonata: II. Vivace flessibile
  15. Cello Sonata: III. Theme and Variations: Adagio – Allegro con moto – molto sostenutno – Fugue: Adagio e molto sereno