Jennifer Pike’s five-star Elgar and Vaughan Williams recording is “an irresistible release”

26 August 2020

Jennifer Pike celebrates the release of her latest recording on Chandos in August 2020, joined by one of her regular musical partners, pianist Martin Roscoe. Following on from her successful album ‘The Polish Violin’ last year, Jennifer Pike now turns her attention to both well-known and rare gems of British repertoire, exploring the other side of her heritage with a new album of violin sonatas by Elgar and Vaughan Williams.

The disc entered the top 10 in the UK Classical Charts and Spotify's Classical New Releases, and Jennifer performed an extract from The Lark Ascending for Classic FM's National Portrait Gallery Sessions.

The disc has received critical acclaim as "an irresistible release" (The Strad), has been awarded five stars from Gramophone Magazine, BBC Music Magazine, Limelight Magazine and Music Web International, and won in the Chamber category for Limelight Magazine's Recording of the Year.

Pike and Roscoe’s interpretation of Elgar’s Violin Sonata is widely praised for its emotional intensity, “vigour and entrancing sensitivity” (The Strad), and “well-defined character elements: drama [and] spellbinding tranquility” (Gramophone).

Their performance of Vaughan Williams’s Violin Sonata displays “a remarkable range of colour: impassioned double stopping, grit and cutting tone switching to beguiling, tender lyricism” (BBC Music Magazine), and is “well-nigh flawless [and] carefully balanced and nuanced…Pike seems very much at home in the modal world of Vaughan Williams” (Gramophone). The Lark Ascending in its original version is given “a gentle, rippling performance” (The Strad), “Pike’s Lark soars with confident ardour” (Limelight Magazine).

Review highlights can be read below:

“Jennifer Pike’s individual reading of the first movement [Elgar’s Violin Sonata] is of well-defined character elements: drama for the first subject … and a spellbinding tranquility for the main secondary idea… The exotic Romance is delicate and refined … Pike seems very much at home in the modal world of Vaughan Williams’s late Violin Sonata in A minor (1954), and she and Martin Roscoe negotiate the imaginative Fantasia structure of the first movement with verve and vigour. The intonation of the multiple-stopping is well-nigh flawless and the execution of the long melodic passages is carefully balanced and nuanced” - Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone Magazine *****

“Here are two great British violin sonatas – Elgar’s well-established masterpiece and the still much underestimated Vaughan Williams – both superbly played. In the Elgar, Jennifer Pike is fully engaged with the rhetoric of its opening theme, not immediately squeezing all its emotional juice but saving her most impassioned tone for the peak of its phrase. Her brilliant partner Martin Roscoe, is equally at the service of the music – the character of the work is their sole concern…Pike and Roscoe's detailed characterisations of [Vaughan Williams's sonata]'s themes ensures it coheres into a substantial and very personal drama...Pike, launching into this work with sturdy tone, shows a remarkable range of colour, whether in her impassioned yet true-sounding double stopping, or using grit and cutting tone one moment before switching to a beguiling, tender lyricism” - Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine, performance ***** recording ****

“[In Vaughan Williams’ Violin Sonata] both musicians throw themselves into the second movement’s Allegro Furioso with beautifully controlled abandon... Pike’s lark soars with confident ardour. A benchmark recording of the two sonatas is that from 1978 by Yehudi and Hephzibah Menuhin. Yehudi had a strong affinity for this music and is highly expressive, but his intonation is neither as secure nor his tone as pure as Pike’s, while Roscoe is the more imaginative pianist. This new recording is a must if you don’t know these great pieces” - Phillip Scott, Limelight Magazine *****

“This latest recording is very fine and enlightening on its own terms” - Jonathan Woolf, Music Web International *****

“Rare and well-known repertoire with a twist combine in an irresistible release...Pike and Roscoe perform [Elgar's Violin Sonata] with vigour and entrancing sensitivity. They launch into the first movement with red-blooded energy, following which Pike’s tender, small voice is the more affecting. In the central Romance she moves from light caprice to deep reverie; the grand rhetoric and limpid subtleties of the finale complete a tremendous performance. Pike and Roscoe give a persuasive demonstration of why Vaughan Williams’s A minor Sonata, a stark and beautiful work, deserves more attention...The Lark Ascending which follows, given a gentle, rippling performance” - Tim Homfray, The Strad

“This is a very interesting look at Vaughan Williams in a guise we haven't heard him before” - BBC Radio 3 In Tune

“The strong forward motion of Pike's playing is ideal in bringing out Vaughan Williams' line of thought...It's a fresh recital of British chamber music, beautifully recorded by Chandos at Potton Hall, and it demands attention for this rising violinist” - James Manheim, All Music

To find out more about the recording, click here. To watch the trailer for the disc, click here.

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