HAHN; SZYMANOWSKI Works for Violin and Piano
It might seem a strange idea to pair Reynaldo Hahn’s refined elegance with Szymanowski’s impressionistic, dramatic manner. However, the two styles certainly provide a strong contrast and, what is perhaps more to the point, these are all lovely performances. Hahn’s Sonata, written in the mid-1920s, has no hint of modernism, yet has individuality and successfully avoids lapsing into cliché. Tamsin Waley-Cohen produces a beautiful, soft, creamy tone in the lyrical passages, and throughout the recital we’re treated to a remarkable palette of tone colours.
Huw Watkins is able to match this range most effectively, with the result that the passionate, rhapsodic opening of the Szymanowski Sonata (an early work, though full of interest), the dark, sinister atmosphere at the start of the Nocturne and its sudden eruption into night-time revelry are all projected with the greatest vividness. And the two play the little Veloce that forms the middle movement of the Hahn Sonata with a splendidly light touch. Both players, too, encompass the virtuoso demands of the Szymanowski Tarantella with a true sense of vigour and enjoyment.
In Hahn’s Romance, Waley-Cohen shows she’s not afraid to introduce expressive portamentos. Tastefully executed, these add much to the piece’s gently sensuous aura. This helps one to realise that Hahn’s music, which in a nondescript performance might emerge as typical light music, has in fact a particular distinction which, though far removed from Szymanowski’s more forceful qualities, is well worth returning to and getting to know well. Watkins and Waley Cohen make for admirable guides.