Rebecca Clarke: Viola sonata (Hyperion)

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There are so many misnomers about Ms Clarke that it’s worth taking a sentence or two to put them straight. Clarke (1886-1979) is widely regarded as one of the first English women composers. But her father was an American photographic executive, her mother was German and as soon as she reached 30 Clarke sailed off to the US to spend the better part of her life over there, playing mostly English music in a trio.

Her own music is English in rather dated sense of the term, heavily reliant on folk music and simple modulations. Her viola sonata is not helped here by being played in a cello version by Natalie Clein. Four pieces by Clarke’s fellow-violist Frank Bridge are not appreciably more cheerful. The redeeming feature comes at the end in Six Studies in English Folk Song by Ralph Vaughan Williams, doing exactly what it says on the tin and expansively rendered by Clein and her pianist, Christian Ihle Hadland.


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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  1. Pingback: Slipped Disc | Have we got it wrong about Rececca Clarke?

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