Renowned violinist Tasmin Little returns to Chandos with a line-up of three women composers whose lives share some features but also significant differences that illustrate the complex lives of female musicians. Clara Schumann, Dame Ethel Smyth and Amy Beach all came from families that encouraged their musical interests but balked, in varying degrees, at professional training and engagement. All three composers draw on the influence of Robert Schumann and Brahms; Beach and Smyth in particular were fond of metrical and motivic manipulation.Tasmin Little plays this music close to her heart with her usual warmth and dexterity. The manuscript to Clara Schumann’s final chamber work Three Romances states ‘for piano and violin’, an orderingRead more reflected in the relative complexity of the parts, the florid passagework here played beautifully by long-term collaborator with Little, John Lenehan.
This delightful, beautifully performed album makes an emphatic, seemingly effortless case for these composers’ music.
– BBC Music Magazine
Neither the Beach or the Smyth, surely, has ever been treated to anything like Little’s gleaming, endlessly fluid tone or John Lenehan’s warmly characterised, unfailingly sensitive pianism. There’s a flexibility and sense of sweep to Little and Lenehan’s performance of the Beach that’s utterly persuasive on its own terms. The two players respond to each other as if by instinct.
Exceptional music by exceptional womenJune 17, 2019By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"Tasmin Little presents a solid program of late-Romantic violin works. As always, her performances let the emotional content of this music blossom forth in beauty. Little has done other outstanding recordings of this repertoire (her Brahms album springs to mind). She seems to have a natural affinity of the late-Romantic style. Oh - and all the music on this release happened to be written by women. While that may provide the program's theme, in my opinion, it's not that relevant. These works are all well-crafted, displaying high degrees of creativity and imagination. Amy Beach's 1896 Violin Sonata in A minor, Op. 34 is a large-scale work. Beach masterfully handles her resources and delivers beautifully-turned melodies one after the other. Little is especially effective in the quiet passages, playing with poignant delicacy. The Violin Sonata, Op. 7 by Dame Ethel Smyth has a darker character to it. Written in 1887, it more closely resembles the style of Brahms and Schumann. Little makes this work her own, brushing aside the considerable technical challenges to get to the heart of the music. I've heard other recordings of this work. I think Little's is the best. Clara Schumann's Drei Romanzen, Op. 22 was written for the violinist Joseph Joachim. The scope of these romances is modest. Little's sympathetic performances make them absolutely charming."Report Abuse
The indomitability of the human spiritFebruary 15, 2019By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"Tasmin Little brings her considerable technique and star power to the music of three women she admires a great deal, both as musicians and as human beings. If there's a theme for this disc, it's the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of systematic adversity and personal tragedy. This new disc helps to underline the rapidly rising reputations of both Clara Schumann and Amy Beach, and I hope it helps along a similar move to bring to the fore the music of Ethel Smyth. Ethel Smyth's Violin Sonata, op. 7, is as full of character and spunk as its composer. Every new idea is more interesting than the one before, and it's all put together with technical skill and imagination. This piece, like the rest of the disc but to perhaps a higher degree, benefits from Little and Lenehan's strong advocacy. All their work was worth it, I think. The three Romanzen, op. 22, of Clara Schumann, are the same kind of character pieces that she and her husband Robert pretty much invented for solo piano. These are indeed romantic, soulful and melodic. The most substantial, and the strongest, piece on the disc is the op. 34 Violin Sonata by Amy Beach. In her book Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian, Adrienne Fried Boch tells the story of violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and pianist Raoul Pugno coming across a violin sonata by "H. A. Beach", recognizing its quality, and putting it into their repertoire, not realizing it was by an American, or a woman. This is a strong, passionate performance, adding lustre to one of the greatest of American chamber works. Beach's Romance, op. 23, was written for the great American violin virtuoso Maud Powell; it's very much of its time (the 1890s), but no less lovely for that. The Invocation, op. 55, is from the new Century, but it's also beautifully melodic, and a beautiful ending for this thoughtfully designed programme. In Little's recent violin sonata discs her partner was the excellent Piers Lane. This time around the pianist is John Lenehan, who provides strong support, though much of this repertoire is very much violin-focussed. We'll see if these two can eventually build the same close relationship that came to a peak in last year's Little-Lane disc of Brahms Violin Sonatas, a triumph of musical synergy. This morning brings the news that Tasmin Little will be retiring from the concert stage. We wish her all the success in the world in all the great things she's planning for the future!"Report Abuse