In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries many British composers produced superb works for cello and piano, but few of these actually made their way into the general repertoire. Here we have four very different works by four very distinct musical personalities, performed by the cellist Paul Watkins, an exclusive Chandos artist, accompanied by his brother, Huw Watkins. The sonata by Frederick Delius is the most widely known of the four pieces. Composed in a single, concise movement, it opens with a tune that sounds at one moment bold, and at the next wistful. The music progresses in the almost endless melodic flow so characteristic of Delius, before dissolving into a dream-like state, and finally, rising to a triumphant, full-hearted climax. By the beginning of the 1900s, Sir Hubert Parry, as Director of the Royal College of Music, and patron of many musical institutions, was probably the most influential figure in British music. His Cello Sonata is a work of high romanticism, tempered by firm structural control and the organic development of themes as befits a composer who had aspired (although unsuccessfully) to study with Brahms. The melodic language could in fact be described as Brahmsian, although Parry does not stringently imitate Brahmss style, and in terms of structure, Parrys strongly lyrical sonata owes little to the work which might have seemed a natural model Brahmss Sonata in E minor. Sir Granville Bantock took much of his inspiration from distant and exotic shores. The term Hamabdil refers to a hymn traditionally sung after the blessings said at the conclusion of the Jewish Sabbath. Bantocks evocative elaboration of this traditional tune is austere and dignified, and originated in an entracte which was part of the incidental music that he had written for Arnold Bennetts play Judith, premiered in London in 1919. Out of the four composers on this disc, only John Foulds was a professional cellist. His sonata is a big and bold work, romantically expressive and emotionally charged, with a complex structure in place, and virtuoso writing for both instruments. In fact, in this true duo-sonata, it is the pianist, not the cellist, who often has the harder task to perform. Product Description.
Paul Watkins follows his outstanding Chandos recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto by partnering his brother Huw in British cello-and-piano works that mostly date from the same era as Elgar's concerto. The exception is Parry's rather Brahmsian sonata, which reached its final form as early as 1883. Delius's slighter, rhapsodic single-movement work was composed in 1915, while the other substantial work here is John Foulds's Op 6 sonata. Why it gets almost as much space in the sleeve notes as the other three works put together is hard to explain, for despite the energy and virtuosity it demands, it seems an unremarkable piece. All the performances, though, are anything but unremarkable Paul Watkins shows himself once again to be peerless in this repertory, while Huw demonstrates that his sparkling playing can be as effective in music of this period as it is so regularly in contemporary repertoire. They lavish great care and good sense on everything here, including Granville Bantock's Hamabdil, a beautiful transcription of a Hebrew hymn that began life as part of Bantock's incidental music for a play by Arnold Bennett.*** --Guardian, 04/10/12
Quite frankly, this is a marvellous release:for the intriguing music, the superb performances and the first class sound. IRR OUTSTANDING --IRR, Oct'12
The Watkins brothers, Paul and Huw, buckle down to their task with notable sympathy and panache. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, Dec'12
The Watkins brothers explore century-straddling cello works. --Gramophone, Feb'13