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Tasmin Little plays Franck, Faure & Szymanowski

CÉSAR FRANCK - Sonata, M 8 (1886)
GABRIEL FAURE - Romance, Op.28 (1877)
KAROL SZYMANOWSKI - Sonata, Op.9 (1904)


CHAN 10940


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Reviews to come ....
 
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A Violin for All Seasons
Roxanna Panufnik: Four World Seasons (premiere recording)
Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Tasmin Little (violin & conductor)
BBC Symphony Orchestra


Antonio Vivaldi - The Four Seasons - Spring

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REVIEWS
from: MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL - January 2017

Whether this is now eight seasons or two times four makes little difference, though it adds a contemporary gloss to the programming and allows Little to add another premiere recording to her discography.

She directs the BBC Symphony in a modern instrument performance that marries sufficient rhythmic resilience to sonic colour without compromising on individuality. One point struck me as curious, though it will only be of interest to violin fanciers. The orchestra is not led by Stephen Bryant but by Bradley Creswick so it’s the latter we hear jousting with Little in the Vivaldi not the expected Bryant. I wonder why?

Some of the rubati in Spring are worthy of note – the chirping and deft dynamics too. Whilst the slow movement is nicely communicative the dog barks are a touch tame, or maybe I have become accustomed to less domestic canines in this movement over the years. What’s certainly true is that the full string body sounds ripely engaging. Little’s fastest-bow-in the-West approach to the opening of Summer is the acme of glamorous engagement – but she’s not afraid to generate some resinous sounds – and there’s languor and indeed torpor in the central panel of the concerto. The finale is exciting, the harpsichord audible but not over-prominent. Little’s rich tone is heard to great advantage in the opening of Autumn where there is a long harpsichord interpolation from David Wright; on repeated listening I’m not sold on it. The pizzicati in the Largo of Winter are, mercifully, not too loud – I’ve heard them obliterate the solo violin line before now – and Little decorates the line early rather than embellishing in the reprise of theme. I prefer the unembellished lyricism and affectionate directness of the classic Alan Loveday but appreciate that decoration can be appropriate and effective. It’s just that I’d have preferred it later.

So, all in all, this is a rhythmically vital, colourful, engaging big band performance with a full complement of satisfying details.

Panufnik’s own Seasons visits four distinct countries. Avid lyricism and folkloric inflexions infuse Autumn in Albania, written in memory of her father Andrzej. The high-lying skittering figures sound like a Balkan lark, ascending, though there are also soulful moments where Little’s vibrato widens, sobbing into the autumnal air. The Tibetan singing bowl makes its presence felt in the second panel with its quasi-improvisatory elements – slow, spiritual, with a deeply long line. Rebirth features prominently in Spring in Japan, the tangy, clay-rich lower strings supporting the solo violin which gets more and more active and flighty as it burgeons into renewed life. Finally there is Indian Summer – Panufnik journeys not from Vivaldi’s Spring to Winter but from Autumn to Summer – in which fascinating hues and painterly colours lightly evoke, through violinistic techniques, Northern Indian traditional violin playing.

The two Seasons form a most attractive contrast and reflect well on all concerned. Jonathan Woolf

from: GRAMOPHONE - December 2016
‘I am not a Baroque player’, says Tasmin Little, and there’s nothing like laying your cards right out on the table. These are modern-instrument performances of Vivaldi with a big symphonic string section. And if you haven’t already run screaming for your Fabio Biondi or La Serenissima sets, you’re going to enjoy this disc a lot.

So in bounds ‘Spring’, strutting like a cockerel – bold, bright and infectiously (there’s no other word for it) springy. With Little directing from the violin, there’s a satisfyingly torrential heft to the downpours of ‘Summer’, just as the slow movements of ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ have a specially hushed intensity when played by a larger body of strings. No Kennedy-like deconstruction here: Little simply responds to the music with an open-eyed freshness and fantasy that’s all the more remarkable when you consider how often she must have played these works. She is lively and conversational, and conveys a vivid sense of character to her colleagues. Listen to the little icicle swirls from David Wright’s harpsichord at the start of ‘Winter’ or the gutsy pizzicatos in the final hunt of ‘Autumn’. Moments such as the inner movement of ‘Winter’, where Little drapes her lustrous tone all over the melody, are a delicious bonus.

Little’s virtuosity comes spectacularly to the fore in Roxanna Panufnik’s Four World Seasons – whether in the Piazzolla-like rhythms and stratospheric heights of the opening ‘Autumn in Albania’, a Himalayan winter scene complete with chiming, warbling Tibetan singing bowl, or Little’s fabulously free but precise birdsong imitations in the shimmering ‘Spring in Japan’. Panufnik has written a really effective response to Vivaldi, ideally tailored to Little’s artistry. Booklet-notes by Jessica Duchen are the icing on the cake Richard Bratby
from: PIZZICATO - December 2016
Tasmin Little's account of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ is a very classical one, free from any historically informed findings. Roxanna Panufnik’s Four World Seasons are colourful and truly interesting pieces rooting in the traditional music of four different regions: Autumn in Albania, Tibetan Winter, Spring in Japan and Indian Summer. Tasmin Little, who commissioned the work, is an accomplished and punchy soloist.
 
 
Chandos Records
 
British Violin Sonatas, Volume 2
Bliss - Sonata for Piano and Violin
Bridge - Sonata for Violin & Piano
Ireland - Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor
Lloyd Webber, W - The Gardens at Eastwell (Premiere recording)
Vaughan Williams - Romance & Pastorale for violin & piano

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REVIEWS
from: THE STRAD Magazine August 2016
 

Two of the sonatas on this disc are unfinished; oh, what good music we don’t have! The ghost of Brahms hovers behind Frank Bridge’s early (1904) E flat major Sonata. There are two movements, the second completed by Paul Hindmarsh in 1996. Tasmin Little and Piers Lane launch gleefully into the first-movement Allegro, shaping its surging lines with full-toned vigour and bringing nicely turned melodic shaping to its passages of repose. There is a satisfyingly big finish. Little tenderly outlines the delicate Andante that follows and skips lightly through the scherzo at its centre.

The first movement of Ireland’s First Sonata ranges far in its eleven-minute span, with its many gear changes negotiated with purpose and poetic sensibility by Little. She brings a simple and touching vulnerability to the second-movement Romance, punctuated by dramatic outbursts. The final Rondo is lively and skittish.

Bliss started his F major Sonata in the trenches, abandoning it after the first movement. In this powerful performance Little and Lane show it to be a work of real emotional weight and complexity. Vaughan Williams’s two early pieces are thoughtful and beautiful. William Lloyd Webber’s short The Gardens at Eastwell, receiving its first recording, is a gentle, reflective delight. The recorded sound is warm and full.

Tim Homfray

from: WTJU - University of Virginia by Ralph Graves, August 31st
 

You don’t have to be Czech to play Dvorak, Spanish to play Rodrigo, nor British to play Vaughan Williams. And yet an artist who shares the composer’s nationality often brings a deeper understanding to the music, a certain authenticity to the performances. That thought occurred to me as I listened to British Violin Sonatas, Volume 2.

In my review of Volume 1, I said: “Tasmin Little played with an expressive yet precise manner, letting the merits of the compositions speak for themselves.” Her performances in volume two are just as beautifully clear, but with (I think) more emotional investment. And the musical chemistry between Tasmin Little and Piers Lane is just as strong as it was in Volume 1.

The disc opens with Frank Bridge’s 1904 Sonata. It’s a somewhat conservative work for Bridge, who in the 1920s abandoned English pastoralism, if not tonality altogether. Although this is is an early work, there are times when the melody threatens to slip the constraints of late-Romantic tonality.

John Ireland’s Violin Sonata No. 1 features long phrases that extend across wide intervals. Little’s violin practically sings these melodies, bring out their structural and emotive beauty. Little and Lane make the shifting textures and moods of the work seem like a conversation between two close friends.

The Sonata of Arthur Bliss is an eleven-minute work densely packed with musical ideas. In some ways, it’s the most English-sounding of the lot, especially with its melodic turns. But the texture and cross-currents make this so much more than just another pretty pastoral.

The program concludes with the “Romance and Pastorale” of Ralph Vaughan Willimas leading into William Lloyd Webber’s beautiful “The Gardens at Eastwell.” Both are quintessential examples of the English pastoral style and make a lovely way to end the program.

My review of Volume 1 concluded: “I look forward to volume two!” Three years later, I can say it was definitely worth the wait. Now I look forward to volume three!

 
 
Beethoven - Complete Sonatas for piano and violin

Compact Disc One
Sonata, Op. 12 No. 1 (1797-98) in D major
Sonata, Op. 30 No. 2 (1801-02) in C minor
Sonata, Op. 96 (1812) in G major


Compact Disc Two
Sonata, Op. 12 No. 2 (1797-98) in A major
Sonata, Op. 23 (1800) in A minor
Sonata, Op. 24 'Spring' (1800-01) in F major
Sonata, Op. 30 No. 3 (1801-02) in G major


Compact Disc Three
Sonata, Op. 30 No. 1 (1801-02) in A major
Sonata, Op. 12 No. 3 (1797-98) in E flat major
Sonata, Op. 47 'Kreutzer-Sonate' (1802-03) in A

Tasmin Little violin - Martin Roscoe piano
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REVIEWS:
 
From: BBC Music Magazine - May 2016
 

BEETHOVEN
Complete violin sonatas Martin Roscoe (piano), Tasmin Little (violin) Chandos CHAN 10888 237:34 mins (3 discs)

It says a great deal for Tasmin Little that she has allowed pianist Martin Roscoe's name to go first on the booklet cover. Well, these works were all published as Sonatas 'for Piano and Violin', and any violinist who approaches them as potential star vehicles is already guilty of a capital offence. I've heard, and admired performances in which violin and piano work as one: 'two minds with but a single thought'. Here though one is very much aware of two distinct personalities, each with plenty to say about this music. There's even a sense of friendly rivalry at times - and all to the good. Little's expressive style is generous and extrovert, Roscoe's at times more inward looking - though the first movement of the Kreutzer Sonata comes across as an emotional switchback ride for both players. That's one of the highlights of the set for me, but I'm also impressed by the way Little and Roscoe make the two following movements sound more than add-ons to that terrific opening drama. The tension is well contained in the more Classical early sonatas. Even better is the sense that the C minor Sonata, Op. 30 No. 2, is on the point of bursting out of that formal container. I'm not quite so convinced by the last Sonata, Op. 96, where Beethoven already seems on the threshold of his 'late' manner. Is Little's heart in particular still with the early Classical and middle-period Tromethean' Beethoven? This is an impressive achievement overall though, and beautifully recorded. Stephen Johnson PERFORMANCE **** RECORDING *****
 
From: The Sunday Times, 28 February 2016
   
BEETHOVEN
Complete Violin Sonatas
Tasmin Little (violin),
Martin Roscoe (piano)
Chandos CHAN108883 (3 CDs)

The British violinist follows Leonidas Kavakos (Decca), Renaud Capucon (Erato/Warner) and lsabelle Faust (Harmonia Mundi) in recording all 10 of Beethoven's sonatas, and she can hold her head high in such company, especially in partnership with her outstanding pianist, who takes precedence on the box cover. Like Mozart's, Beethoven's sonatas are designated for piano and violin, rather than the other way round, and here the two instrumentalists are equal partners,
even in the Work dedicated to the French violinist Kreutzer, “written in a highly concertante style almost like a concerto".

This famous sonata gets a wonderfully vivid and nuanced performance from both players, virtuosic, alive to the suble “conversational” interplay between  the instruments. The sequence is satisfying, too, with each of the three discs containing one from each of the 0p 12 and 0p 30 sets, and 0p 96 and the Kreutzer being the final works on discs l and 3 respectively. Roscoe and Little seem inspired by the greatness and variety of this music. Neither artist has done anything finer on disc. HC

 
From: CLASSIC FM, 26 February 2016
   
BEETHOVEN
Complete Violin Sonatas
Tasmin Little (violin),
Martin Roscoe (piano)
Chandos CHAN108883 (3 CDs)


CRITICS CHOICE by David Mellor
 
Tasmin Little is a dedicated advocate of British violin music, but is determined not to be typecast, and this fine set of Beethoven Violin Sonatas, with the pianist Martin Roscoe proves how right she is. Here she triumphantly shows her authority in the Austro-German classics, and justifies the faith that Chandos puts in her, by investing so much in what must have been an expensive recording. Chandos also rewards her, as they always do, with outstanding sound, which shows off Tasmin’s burnished tone, and technical agility. The Beethoven Violin Sonatas attract the great violinists of every generation, and this is a hugely competitive field, in which it’s impossible to talk about a best buy. But for me, Tasmin’s set is one of the finest of recent years, and deserves the widest circulation.
 
 
From: Amazon: 16 February 2016

Top Customer Reviews *****

By Robert Roy  TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 Feb. 2016

I really hope Yehudi Menuhin is sitting in heaven glowing with pride as his protege continues his tradition...

There was an intention that my wife would buy these CDs for my birthday. However, having signed for the parcel I dropped some pretty broad hints and ended up receiving them as a Valentine's Day gift. (Mrs. Wife's gift was a Radley handbag!) Well, I think we both did well! Both Beethoven and Radley have appropriate tokens of love!

This is a superb set of sonatas that are, as pianists keep telling us, are for PIANO and violin. However, Ms. Little and Mr. Roscoe are such a compelling team that neither instrument seems to be subordinate to the other and simply meld to create a continuos stream of gorgeous music making.

What I love about this set of discs is the sheer 'joie de vivre' that this team bring to the music. The opening of the last sonata that seems to come from nowhere is played so beautifully that it sets the tone for the rest of the work. The following Adagio is possibly the loveliest performance of this movement I've heard since the late, great Menuhin.

There is humour aplenty in the fast movements with very neat bowing from Ms. Little. (It's amazing how many top players find this difficult). The mighty Kreutzer is given a superb performance by both musicians and makes me feel that this is actually Beethoven's second violin concerto.

You know, I'm sitting here with a glass of whisky with my big white cat on my knee. I could attempt a blow by blow analysis of this set but, frankly, who cares?! Buy them and love them.

One last thing, I do hope that Chandos are going to record Tasmin in the Beethoven concerto - SOON.

The recorded sound is superb!
 
Chandos Records
 
Tasmin Little plays British Violin Concertos

Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912) Violin Concerto in G minor Op.80
Allegro maestoso - Poco più mosso - Tempo I - Moderato
Andante semplice - Poco più mosso - Poco più mosso
Allegro molto - Moderato - L'istesso tempo


Frederick Delius (1862-1934) Suite (c.1888-91)
I. Pastorale. Andante quasi Allegretto
II. Intermezzo. Allegro molto vivace
[III. [ Élégie.] Adagio cantabile - [ ] - Tempo I

IV. [Finale.] Allegro animato - Tranquillo - Tempo I

Haydn Wood (1882-1959) Violin Concerto in A minor
Allegro moderato - Cadenza - Tempo I
Andante sostenuto - Poco più mosso - Tempo I
Finale. Allegro giocoso - Brillante - Poco largamente

Tasmin Little violin
BBC Philharmonic / Sir Andrew Davis


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REVIEWS:
STRAD Magazine, Wednesday 10th February 2016
The Chandos engineers have produced a typically wide and opulent soundstage for concertante works by three English composers who crossed the Atlantic – in spirit or in person. In Tasmin Little’s hands the G minor Concerto of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor radiates glamour and confidence at full beam. She goes all out for expressive affection with bags of vibrato, supported by a close rapport with Andrew Davis, who coaxes sighing portamento from the BBC Philharmonic.

Their conviction might place Coleridge-Taylor’s Concerto in the company of Romantics such as Korngold and Barber, and they also play Haydn Wood’s A minor Concerto with dedication and passion. The first two movements of the Wood promise much, with generous and memorable melodies, but their development tends to lapse into German Romantic sequences. There’s a similarly generic oboe-led interlude for the central Andante, replete with the sort of English-pastoral modulations that Vaughan Williams made his own and that even the young Delius did better in a four-movement Suite of character pieces that he filed in a bottom drawer.

Ralph Holmes and Vernon Handley showed years ago that Wood’s Concerto was worth pulling out again. Little and Davis go one better, with more deftly managed transitions, wind playing that would charm the birds from the trees and solos in the Intermezzo that embrace the spirit of a Hardanger fiddler. The finale flies between Mendelssohn’s Leipzig, the first cuckoo’s England and the harmonies of American spirituals, to remind us of Delius’s eclectic inspiration.
Peter Quantrill

The Times, Friday 30th October 2015 ****
Like George Gilbert Scott’s St Pancras Station, Victorian and Edwardian concert music has bounced from being reviled and threatened with oblivion to something approaching veneration. We now have entire festivals devoted to resuscitating tuneful, tonal British composers whose names produced guffaws of derision in smart musical circles in the 1970s when I was a student.

The danger now is overvaluation. There are no neglected geniuses here. On the other hand, there is a wealth of superbly crafted, lyrical music that didn’t deserve to be cast into the wilderness because the musical establishment became obsessed with angst and atonality for half a century.

Tasmin Little, herself an under-appreciated bastion of British musical life, has been an indefatigable champion of this repertoire. Here, accompanied sympathetically by the BBC Philharmonic under Andrew Davis, she plays violin concertos by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Haydn Wood (both pupils of Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music) and a delightful early Suite for Violin and Orchestra by Frederick Delius.

Wood’s concerto gripped me most. He himself was an accomplished violinist as well as a composer who achieved much success with his light music and songs (the classic First World War ballad Roses of Picardy is one of his). Here he revels in the bigger canvas.

The opening movement is marvellously dramatic, with a hair-raising cadenza of fiendish double-stoppings (Little plays it stunningly). A gorgeous horn tune launches the wistful slow movement; the finale is a spirited romp. Throughout, Wood’s harmonic world is irresistibly lush without being cloying.

Coleridge-Taylor’s concerto has a less compulsive flow and is quite derivative; the shadow of Dvořák is obvious. Yet it too has magnificent aspects, especially the finale’s fiery climax. The intriguing thing is that Coleridge-Taylor, Britain’s first famous black composer, had destroyed an earlier violin concerto based on African-American melodies, declaring that “those native melodies rather tied me down.”

He was surely on the verge of writing radically different music when he died in 1912, just a few weeks after the replacement concerto was premiered. He was just 37. Richard Morrison

The Guardian, Thursday 22nd October 2015 ***
Wood; Coleridge-Taylor; Delius: Violin Concertos CD review – a mixed bag made convincing
Violin Concerto for Chandos, on a disc that includes his other string concertos. But the work that forms the centrepiece of her latest collection of British so-called concertos is the Suite for Violin and Orchestra that Delius composed around 1890. It’s an odd mix of movements, three looking forward to the music that would come a few years later while the fourth seems to have strayed in from from some forgotten work by Mendelssohn or Max Bruch. Little pays it just as much careful attention as the other two equally unfamiliar works on her disc, though, both of them composed significantly later than the Suite.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Concerto dates from 1912, the year of his premature death, and more than a decade after he had earned the undying gratitude of choral societies around the country with his cantata Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. It’s a patchy but striking work – with echoes of Elgar and (in the slow movement) even Puccini, as well as the more predictable Dvořák – which probably deserves to be heard more often than it is. I’m not sure the same can be said for Haydn Wood’s 1928 Concerto, with its overblown medley of hand-me-down romantic styles – a bit of brash Rachmaninov here, a mellow Elgarian tune there – though as always Little and Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic try hard to make it all seem convincing.
Andrew Clements

Chandos
 
Schubert Chamber Works

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Sonata, Op. post. 137 No.1, D 384 (1816)
Sonata, Op. post. 137 No.2, D 385 (1816)
Sonata, Op. post. 137 No.3, D 408 (1816)
Sonata, Op. post. 162, D 574 (1817)

COMPACT DISC TWO
Rondeau brillant, Op.70, D 895 (1826)
Fantasie, Op. post.159, D 934 (1827)
Sonata, D 821 (1824)
Adagio, Op. post.148, D897 (1827 or 1828)
for Piano, Violin and Cello
'Notturno'


Tasmin Little violin
Piers Lane piano
Tim Hugh cello

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Schubert

 
 
REVIEWS:

The Daily Telegraph, Saturday 25th April 2015 ****
Schubert's genial personality comes through on the first disc of this two-CD set. In four violin sonatas written while he was still in his teens there are none of the troubles and inner searchings that were to be enshrined in the later "Death and the Maiden" string quartet or the last piano sonatas.

Exuberance is the keyword here, and that is precisely what Tasmin Little and Piers Lane bring to them in delightfully positive performances, bristling with vigour and with tenderness and tonal subtlety that make the music spring to life. Taste goes hand in hand in those pieces with healthy spirit in as it does in “Rondo brillant" that opens the second disc. But here the Classical profile of the earlier works has given way to a seam of more dramatic, Romantic sensibility that Little and Lane top with verve, ardour and spark. supplemented by an intensity and sensitivity of expression in the late C major Fantasy. The cellist Tim Hugh gives, with Lane, a poised, eloquently turned performance of the Arpeggione Sonata, and all three performers come together for the late "Notturno", a sublime performance. Geoffrey Norris

STRAD Magazine, June 2015
" .... this is otherwise a well played conspectus of this small corner of Schubert's output,

And there's more: Tim Hugh offers the ever charming Arpeggione Sonata and Little returns to sign off with that biguiling gem, the piano trio Notturno, Simply gorgeous," David Threasher

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Chandos Records
 
French Violin Sonatas
Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894)

Sonata in G major (1892-93)

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Sonata movement in A minor (1897)

Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
Sonata No. 1, Op.13 in A major (1875-76)


Tasmin Little violin
Martin Roscoe piano

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listen to 3 min
Lekeu 2nd mov

 
 
REVIEWS:

New Zealand Herald, Saturday 29th November 
"Little, together with pianist Martin Roscoe, opens the set with this piece, its restless textures offering limitless scope for the intense emotional engagement that we so value in these musicians.

The slow movement, substantially in 7/4, is a beautifully drawn-out song; as often happens on this disc, you find yourself craning forward to enjoy the very physical sound of bow on string... "

Verdict: "French sonatas glow with the energy and impetuousness of youth."

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International Record Review, November 2014
“… captured in gloriously full sound, underpinning the Brahmsian quality of the piano writing … The slow movement carries on the broad Romantic impulse, Roscoe’s tone capturing the fullness while also achieving a veiled quality.(on Lekeu’s Sonata)
" Full credit must go to the Chandos engineers for reproducing this so well: equally Little draws the loveliest of tones from her Guadagnini violin….”

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Gramophone Magazine, December 2014
" ...Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe give a passionale full-blooded performance of the Lekeu Sonata, taking on board the 22-year-old composer's lofty tone and high ambitions...."

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Strad Magazine, January 2015
"If Fauré’s entire output could be encapsulated in just one word it would be ‘tendresse’. The inspired teaming of Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe fully captures this elusive quality in glowing performance of the ravishing A major Sonata (complete with first-movement exposition repeat) while retaining a Brahmsian dramatic grip that ensures the music is sent soaring aloft in all the right places. Roscoe emerges unscathed from one of the trickiest of all piano accompaniments, sustaining a seductively velvet quality in even the notorious scherzo, while Little intensifies her exultant phrasing in the outer movements with a narrower, faster vibrato than usual to captivating effect.

Fauré was a man of passionate reserve, a tantalising dichotomy that not only informed his music but also allowed him to appreciate and nurture a wide range of talents at the Paris Conservatoire, including Ravel, whose 1897 sonata movement turns out not to be a stand-alone affair after all but was originally intended to head a multi-movement work. Little and Roscoe sound completely at home in the music’s varied stylistic interfaces, and really come into their own in the chromaticisms of the Lekeu Sonata in a winning performance to rival even that of Yehudi Menuhin (EMI). Exemplary annotations from Roger Nichols and first-rate sound provide the musical icing on the cake."
JULIAN HAYLOCK

BBC Music Magazine, February 2015
" ...Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe masterfully pacing the ebb and flow of the tension. Nonetheless there is little precedent for the long-breathed unfolding line of the slow movement, and Little's whispered treatment of the end is magical. Little displays similar control in the Scherzo.of Fauré's A major Sonata, the music seemingly evaporating into the ether at the end of the central section...."

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Chandos Records
 
William Walton (1902-1983)
Symphony No. 1
William Walton (1902-1983)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Revised version, 1943
For Jascha Heifetz


Tasmin Little violin
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner, conductor

BBC Music Magazine BBC Music Magazine June 2014

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UK
USA
 
REVIEWS:
"Walton’s Violin Concerto is an apt choice of coupling for the Symphony. Begun in 1938 as a result of a commission from Jascha Heifetz, it successfully amalgamates the dazzling virtuoso elements expected by Heifetz with lyrical music that for the first time expresses Walton’s life long love of the Amalfi coast of Southern Italy. This is the second time that Tasmin Little, a true champion of British music, has recorded the Walton Violin Concerto – the first was in the mid 90s with Andrew Litton and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In  Little’s performance, recorded here in the fine acoustic of the Watford Colosseum, it is the lyrical aspects of the first movement and parts of the finale that make the strongest impression. The romantic and dreamy tranquillity of the opening movement is marvellously conveyed by the rapturous sounds that she elicits from her rich toned instrument. The challenges of the central scherzo are met with absolute conviction and mischievous wit, while Gardner and the BBC SO provide incisive accompaniment throughout in which the balance between soloist and orchestra seems ideal. Those seeking a coupling of these two Walton masterpieces will be more than well served by this outstanding disc that certainly warrants a top recommendation. " Graham Williams , Classical CD Choice - May 30th 2014
Rating: ****
"To the Violin Concerto, completed in 1939 on a commission from the Lithuanian-born virtuoso Jascha Heifetz, Tasmin Little brings a mellifluous glow and a capricious spirit. This is music of impetuously shifting moods, by turns inward-looking and extrovert, a combination that Little, in close alliance with Gardner and the orchestra, effects with bravura and with a range of tonal shading and a sensitive moulding of phrases that, as in the symphony, lends the music both bloom and sparkle. "
GN, Daily Telegraph
Rating: ****
"The violin concerto, Tasmin Little’s second recording of it, reinforces her position as one of the very top advocates of the work, as she is of British music in general. It is an exceptionally warm and lyrical sound and just as light and agile when it needs to be. The cadenza in the third movement is a masterclass in controlled intensity."
Kimon Daltas, Sinfini Music
"Little proves that she owns this piece, and constantly engages the listener with singing lines, effortless, wispy figurations, and forthright, athletic playing in the aggressive passages." Marcus Karl Maroney, Concerto.net | The Classical Music Network
BBC Music Magazine June 2014 - Recording of the Month -
White Hot Walton
(Performance ***** Recording *****)
"Two masterworks of English music, graced with top-flight interpretations from two exceptional artists and a classy orchestra: what's not to like? The high-octane intensity of Walton's First Symphony is a different proposition from the Violin Concerto, whose alternating roguishness and warmth reflect the southern Italian scene where much of the work was written. This range of demands is superbly met here. Tasmin Little first recorded Walton's Concerto 20 years ago - a reading delivered with an astonishing velocity in the quick passages, and with much soul in the long-breathed lyrical ones. These extremes of pace and mood allow for little in the way of middle ground: Walton here found himself needing to satisfy the ultra-virtuoso requirements of Jascha Heifetz, while also looking to convey in music the happiness of his relationship with Alice, Viscountess Wimborne. The result was a stop-start design that can be difficult to hold together, as Little's earlier disc showed. Her new one squares this near-unsquareable circle remarkably. Little's way with the virtuoso passages is a notch less headlong than before, allowing the ear to savour her phenomenal accuracy, yet with no loss of fire and brilliance. And here expressive range searches out wonderful new regions: the solo violin's first three opening notes here amount to a haunting musical world in themselves, while the Scherzos second tune is graced with a wry, mesmerising wistfulness of tone. Edward Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra provide an accompaniment whose range of detail, by turns brilliant and beautifully precise, is never driven too hard. "
Malcolm Hayes - BBC Music Magazine - June 2014
"Long eclipsed by Britten, Walton is a composer in need of champions. His First Symphony and Violin Concerto are supposedly repertoire works, yet we seldom hear them in the concert hall. This CD – a perfect pairing of his two symphonic masterworks – shows what we have been missing. Gardner and the BBC Symphony Orchestra profile the symphony’s turbulent syncopations, brassy dissonances and expressionist brilliance – a truly exhilarating performance.

In the concerto, Little finds the nexus between sultry lyricism and rapturous virtuosity."
Andrew Clark, Financial Times
Like a good wine, violinist Tasmin Little is ageing very well indeed. I have been following her career since the late 1980s, from her crisp, fresh-faced readings of Bruch, Dvorák or Lalo under the late Vernon Handley to her latest Chandos recordings, most notably the best Moeran VC on record. This account of the Walton Violin Concerto is wonderfully fluid, relaxed and eminently musical. Cannot be bettered. I'm not quite so enamored with Edward Gardner's version of Symphony No.1, however. The famous opening chords seem a little too hushed, indistinct. Thankfully, things improve greatly thereafter, and the polish and silvery sound of the BBC SO cannot be denied. A generously filled and crisply recorded album then, highly recommendable for the VC and certainly more than adequate in the symphony. T Muething, The Classical Shop
I’d be surprised if Little and Gardner had not studied the recording made by dedicatee and composer – an authoritative but not necessarily compulsory model – but they take all three movements significantly more slowly than those illustrious predecessors. I’m not going to make detailed comparisons, however, because everything on the new Chandos recording sounds just as ‘right’ as on RCA. There are two ways to describe performance that come out on paper looking slower than the opposition: there are those that drag and those that give the music a little more time to breathe. This belongs to the latter type. Chandos had earlier recordings of the First Symphony and the Violin Concerto... but, good as they both are, they are outshone by the new recording .... Of all Tasmin Little’s and Edward Gardner’s recent fine recordings this has impressed me the most. .... I think you’ll want to buy it when you have heard it. Brian Wilson - MusicWeb International
"Walton's Violin Concerto is an apt choice of coupling for the Symphony. Begun in 1938 as a result of a commission from Jascha Heifetz, it successfully amalgamates the dazzling virtuoso elements expected by Heifetz with lyrical music that for the first time expresses Walton's life long love of the Amalfi coast of Southern Italy. This is the second time that Tasmin Little, a true champion of British music, has recorded the Walton Violin Concerto – the first was in the mid 90s with Andrew Litton and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In Little's performance, recorded here in the fine acoustic of the Watford Colosseum, it is the lyrical aspects of the first movement and parts of the finale that make the strongest impression.

The romantic and dreamy tranquillity of the opening movement is marvellously conveyed by the rapturous sounds that she elicits from her rich toned instrument. The challenges of the central scherzo are met with absolute conviction and mischievous wit, while Gardner and the BBC SO provide incisive accompaniment throughout in which the balance between soloist and orchestra seems ideal.

Those seeking a coupling of these two Walton masterpieces will be more than well served by this outstanding disc that certainly warrants a top recommendation."
Graham Williams SA-CD.net
Chandos Records

 
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1937-42)
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
Legende (c. 1892-95)
Gustav Holst (1874-1934
A Song of the Night, Op. 19 No. 1, H 74 (1905)
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Premiere recordings in this arrangement
Chanson de matin, Op. 15 No. 2 (1899)
Chanson de nuit, Op. 15 No. 1 (1897-99
Salut d'amour, Op. 12 (1888)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
The Lark Ascending (1914, revised 1920)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra To Marie Hall

Tasmin Little violin with the BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis
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Limelight Magazine - Australia (May 2014):

Little launches the loveliest of Larks ever to take flight
"British violinist Tasmin Little has been playing Vaughan Williams’ evocation of a lark in flight for most of her career – she and Sir Andrew Davis recorded it 20 years ago for Teldec – but this new recording on Chandos is something else altogether. It’s not just that Little’s tone is nigh on ideal, capable of an extraordinary ethereal sweetness, but her sense of phrasing makes the whole work into one long melody, seemingly untroubled by bar lines. Davis and Chandos support this flight with a gorgeous cushion of string sound, surpassing any other audio account that can recall.

If that sounds like a rave for a new recording of The Lark, it should, but this disc, named for Vaughan Williams’ hit, is a cunning façade for a recording of one of the finest of British violin concertos – that of E J Moeran. It’s criminal that there are only four other versions of this appealing masterpiece in the catalogue – Sammons and Campoli (both with Boult and both in poor sound), Georgiadis on Lyrita and Lydia Mordkovitch’s fine account with Handley, also on Chandos. Little sweeps all before her with the most sensitive and nuanced account to date. Where she stands out is in her ability to make Moeran’s rhapsodic work feel naturally structured yet still full of drama. Makeweights include Delius’ attractive Legende and some of Elgar’s salon favourites in orchestral guise. What’s not to like?"
Clive Paget
Sinfini Music:
"Little’s special sense of identity with English music is confirmed by a performance of E. J. Moeran’s Violin Concerto that surpasses even the Albert Sammons classic of the mid-1940s (Moeran described Sammons at the time as ‘the only one to play it.’). This is not merely a question of vastly superior recording quality but of Little’s special ability to ‘dream’ and fantasize with the music as though she is composing it as she goes along. As a result Moeran’s rhapsodic tendency loses its episodic structural profile and sounds instead likes an inspired stream of musical consciousness. The first movement’s early solo cadenza can, for example, feel dramatically premature, yet Little glides effortlessly into, through and out of it as though it was the most natural thing in the world." Julian Haylock >>> read full review here
The Mail on Sunday: *****
"Tasmin Little is a terrific violinist whose devotion to English music inspires her to learn pieces a player of her stature could easily avoid in favour of yet another performance of Bruch's first violin concerto. The centrepiece of her latest enticing album is E J Moeran's Violin Concerto.
Moeran was a Norfolk man fascinated by Ireland, where he tragically died in 1950 after falling into deep water having drunk too much; His concerto is a splendidly lyrical piece with a lively second movement and a lovely, long breathed, slow finate. Moeran admired Delius, and so indeed does Tasmin, so her account of Delius's early Legende is also treasurable, as is a short 1905 Holst piece, A Song Of The Night. There isn't a single bar here that's characteristic of the mature Holst, but it's still a delight.
After this savoury meal for the adventurous come a few sweetmeats, beginning with new arrangements for violin and orchestra of Elgar's Chanson De Nuit and Chanson De Matin, plus SalutD'Amour. These fit firmly into the category 'Why bother?' but still appealingly caress the ear. Finally, a delicious dollop of figgy pudding, with Tasmin's second thoughts on CD about Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending. Maybe the lark ascends too often these days, but, however often you hear it it remains a ravishingly beautiful piece, and no one does it better than Ms L.
" David Mellor - 17 November 2013
Review
BBC Radio 3 - "Building a Library": Review of this CHANDOS release. Listen or download by clicking the logo. (13min)
Chandos Records
  British Violin Sonatas, Volume 1
Howard Ferguson (1908 – 1999) Sonata No. 2, Op. 10 (1946)
for Violin and Piano
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) Suite, Op. 6(1934 – 35)
for Violin and Piano
Sir William Walton(1902 – 1983) Sonata (1947 – 49)
for Violin and Piano
Edited by Hugh Macdonald
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International Record Review:
"...The Britten work — a Suite rather than sonata, but let us not quibble — likewise benefits from such generously extended advocacy. In the opening 'March', for instance, Little's rock-solid and secure harmonics, her playing sul ponticello and up in the highest stratosphere of the instrument's range, often at a miraculous pianissimo, are quite breathtaking....." Piers Burton-Page >>> read full review as PDF
Chandos Records
 
Benjamin Britten, Piano and Violin Concerto
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 13
(1938, revised 1945)*
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 15
(1938 – 39, revised 1950, 1954, and 1965)

Tasmin Little violin,
Howard Shelley piano


BBC Philharmonic / Edward Gardner
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International Record Review:
"I have been waiting for some time to hear Tasmin Little in this violin concerto and she does not disappoint. In her own performer's note, she rightly praises the phenomenal account by Ida Haendel, but hers is in no way inferior. Indeed, in some ways, in the inner intensity of her phrasing and outstanding lyrical playing, Little is to be preferred, notably in the astounding decclamato passage in the 'Passacaglia' and in the long Lento e solenne coda, where — like Haendel — she plays the final espressiro passage in octaves (it's not in the score, but the music demands it, without question). Elsewhere, her virtuosity is breathtaking. The playing of the BBC Philharmonic under Gardner is pretty staggering throughout, especially in the second movement (with a virtuoso timpanist), and is superior to the Bournemouth Symphony under Paavo Berglund - good though they are. .... this is a simply magnificent recording which it would be impossible to improve upon." Robert Matthew-Walker
Mellor's CD of the Week (Mail on Sunday)
"Perhaps the best new recording thus far of Benjamin Britten's centenary year features three fine British artists. Tasmin Little is inspired throughout the Violin Concerto, and Howard Shelley virtuosic in the Piano Concerto, which is often percussive in the manner of Prokofiev. Ed Gardner has long been a Britten specialist, and he and the BBC Philharmonic provide an eloquently idiomatic backcloth. Chandos's recording is also, as ever, first-class. Both are early works, and for me, a cause for regret that Britten was later so pressured by his partner Peter Pears to produce almost entirely vocal music."
 
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Chandos Records
 
Witold Lutoslawski
Symphony No. 1 (1941-47)

Partita (1988) for Violin and Orchestra for Violin and Piano (1984)
Tasmin Little violin

Chain 2 (1984-85)
Dialogue for Violin and Orchestra
Tasmin Little, violin

Preludia taneczne (1955)
(Dance Preludes)
for Clarinet Solo, Percussion, Harp, Piano, and Strings
Michael Collins, clarinet
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Edward Gardner
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REVIEWS:
International Record Review (April 2013)
"... Any doubt as to Tasmin Little’s identification with this music is quickly banished as she responds with some of her most insightful as well as virtuosic playing on disc. The spacious yet immediate sound is on a par with earlier discs in the series..."
Richard Whitehouse
 
The Financial Times (16-17 March 2013)
"...Then come Partita and Chain 2, two 1980s violin concertos notable for their expressive intensity, a quality matched by Tasmin Little’s performances ...” Andrew Clark
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Chandos Records
 
Violin Sonatas Strauss | Respighi
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Violin Sonata, Op. 18 (TrV 151) (1887) in E flat major

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Violin Sonata, P 110 (1917) in B minor

from Sei pezzi, P 31 (1901-05)
(Six Pieces) for Violin and Piano

Tasmin Little, violin
Piers Lane, piano
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GRAMOPHONE
"Both sonatas are played here with complete understanding and spontaneity, and bring moments of true musical virtuosity. Piers Lane is a first-class pianist and forms a fine partnership with Tasmin Little, whose tone is caught with great beauty, for the Chandos recording is completely real and naturally balanced."
Ivan March
 
BBC Music Magazine (January 2013)
"Richard Strauss' early Violin Sonata is so full of youthful rhetoric and so obviously pines for the colours of a full orchestra rather than the piano, that it's often a difficult work to bring off convincingly. But Tasmin Little and Piers Lane turn in one of the most satisfying performances I've heard. Their judicious choice of tempos allows the music to breathe naturally. They also display an intense sympathy with Strauss' melodic style, especially in their delicate and atmospheric account of the slow movement.

The Strauss is coupled on this recording with a remarkably eloquent interpretation of Respighi s Sonata in B minor. This is also a rather problematic work, in its uneasy mix of Italianate lyricism and Germanic contrapuntal elaboration. Little and Lane's relaxed yet focused reading of the first two movements is balanced by a thrusting, even aggressive account of the passacaglia finale: with its deep piano octaves, this is Respighi at his most Brahmsian. Little's full-toned bravura in this movement reminds us why this Sonata was a favourite of Jascha Heifetz, and Lane has to work just as hard.
Performance: ***** Recording: ****" Calum MacDonald
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Chandos Records
 
BBC Radio 3 "Disc of the Week"


FREDERICK DELIUS

Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra
Violin Concerto
Cello Concerto

Tasmin Little, violin
Paul Watkins, cello
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Sir Andrew Davis
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www.classicalsource.com
"Tasmin Little has had this soaring work in her repertoire for some time, and the experience shows, especially in those parts well above the stave, which are as secure and well-considered as one could hope for. Coupled with this are spontaneity, so essential in Delius, and an ebb and flow that finds a sympathetic partner in Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The cadenza is wonderfully played and paced. Little's earlier recording (now on Decca) with Sir Charles Mackerras is an equally fine performance, but Chandos's more-natural balance has the greater appeal."
Peter Joelson
 
GRAMOPHONE (December 2011)
"Some two decades ago Tasmin Little set down memorable versions of both the Violin Concerto and Double Concerto with Sir Charles Mackerras at the helm (for Argo and EMI Eminence respectively). Clearly the intervening years have not diminished her abundant love for and entrancing empathy with this glorious repertoire. Not only does she surmount every technical hurdle with ease, her tone remains wonderfully pure and heart-warmingly expressive.

Little's partnership with Paul Watkins strikes me as an especial success; indeed, theirs is the most tenderly lyrical and raptly spontaneous performance of the Double Concerto to have yet come my way (and I do not forget the considerable claims of Little's own earlier recording with Raphael Wallfisch). In the Cello Concerto Watkins resuscitates all except two bars of Delius's altogether more challenging original edition of the solo part. Suffice it to say, he brings a wealth of profound musicality, ardour and insight to bear, making his an interpretation to cherish and one to which I can already see myself returning many times.

....The orchestral playing is commendably poised throughout, Chandos's SACD sound airy, rich and glowing. No self-respecting Delian can afford to be without this indispensable issue."
Andrew Achenbach
 
The Sunday Times (2 October 2011)
“... a magical, sensuous flow is the presiding quality of this superior performance by Little. Watkins is no less captivating in the Cello Concerto, and they are superb together in the Double Concerto, with its heart-easing slow second section.”
Paul Driver
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Ludwig van Beethoven (4 CDs)
Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15
Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58
Rondo, WoO 6
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 19)
Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 'Emperor'
Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 37
Piano Concerto, Op. 61
Fantasia, Op. 80
Piano Concerto, WoO 4
Triple Concerto, Op. 56

Tasmin Little, violin - Tim Hugh, cello - Orchestra of Opera North,
Howard Shelley, pianist
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REVIEWS:
Pianist Magazine - Editor's Choice (February-March 2013)
“... what makes this set so unique and appealing is the commitment and freshness Shelley brings to the lesser-known works. Tasmin Little and Tim Hugh are the stars in the Triple Concert, and its good to see that the pianist is not afraid to take himself out of the limelight...” *****"
Marius Dawn
 
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