Matthew Jones and Annabel Thwaite
Saturday, September 22, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Matthew Jones, violin
Annabel Thwaite, piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1758-91)
Violin Sonata in E minor, K304 (1778)
Tempo di menuetto
This much loved sonata is one of Mozart’s ‘Palatine’sonatas, so titled because he dedicated them to Maria Elizabeth, wife of the Elector of Palatine. It was composed in 1778 when Mozart’s beloved mother Anna Maria, with him in Paris, died after a short illness. The sonata’s mood reflects this. It is the only instrumental work by Mozart whose home key is E minor.
The sonata’s dramatic unison leads to a harmonised presentation of the same melody. Each new idea contains something of what went before, unifying the whole. The recapitulation begins with a dramatic reharmonisation of the first theme, pointing forward to the Romantic world of Beethoven.
The second and final movement, though titled Tempo di menuetto,behaves more like a rondo, with two episodes interpolated between recurrences of the soulful minuet refrain. The first of these episodes offers a stylish sweetness and a piano flourish, leading back to the minuet theme. The second, an extended section with two halves, begins with a soft chordal theme in the piano and permits, in the words of the great Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein, ‘a brief glimpse of bliss’.
Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
Nocturne for Violin and Pianoin E flat major(1906)
Reynaldo Hahn was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the melodie. The Nocturne exemplifies his uniquely imaginative use of a variety of harmonies, beneath the same melody in its incarnations.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Sonata for Violin and Piano, L140 (1917)
Intermede: Fantastique et leger
Finale: Tres anime
From 1914, the composer, encouraged by the music pubisher Jaques Durand, intended to write a set of six sonatas for various instruments in homage to the French composers of the 18th century. The First World War, along with the composers Couperin and Rameau, inspired Debussy in writing the sonatas.
In a letter to the conductor Bernard Molinart, Debussy explained that the set should include ‘different combinations, with the last sonata combining the previously used instruments’. His death on 25 March 1918 ultimately prevented him from carrying out his plan, and only three of the six sonatas were completed and published by Durand, with a dedication to his second wife, Emma Bardac.
The sonata for violin and piano was the composer’s last major composition and is notable for its brevity. A typical performance lasts about 13 minutes. The premiere took place on 5 May 1917, the violin part played by Gaston Poulet, with Debussy himself at the piano. It was his last public performance.
William Walton (1902-83)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1947-49)
The genesis of Walton’s Sonata for violin and piano is one of the most unusual and bittersweet in musical history. Beginning in the mid-1930s,Walton enjoyed the close romantic companionship of Alice Wimborne, a prominent music patroness. On their way to a vacation in Capri in 1947, Lady Wimborne became ill (it turned out to be cancer) and required immediate treatment. By chance, Walton met the wife of violinist Yehudi Menuhin on a train, who offered to pay for the emergency treatment. As a gesture of gratitude, Walton offered to compose a work for violin and piano to be performed by Yehudi Menuhin and the husband of his wife’s sister, Louis Kettner. The story gets even more intriguing: by the time the work was finished, Lady Wimborne had passed away and Walton had married. Thus it is not without reason that Walton’s biographers hear in this work a strange and poignant mixture of romantic lyricism, elegiac sorrow and optimistic contentment.
The work is in two movements of roughly equal length, the second being an Andante theme followed by seven variations.
George Gershwin (1898-1937), arranged by Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987)
Selection from Porgy and Bess
Gershwin and Heifetz, two of the best known figures in American music, were good friends and often played together. Heifetz had urged Gershwin to write a violin concerto for him, but unfortnately Gerswin died before the project got off the ground.
These transcriptions by Heifetz offer some compensation. The infectious rhythms and catchy tunes of this American classic are brilliantly served by Heifetz as transcriber, adding more than a touch of virtuosity to the pieces.
Described by ‘Fanfare’ Magazine as ‘the finest violist since William Primrose’, Matthew enjoys a diverse performing and teaching career, equally at home as soloist or chamber musician, playing both violin and viola, classical and contemporary music, and improvisation. He gave a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall recital debut in 2008, performs extensively with duo partner Annabel Thwaite, and is a member of the Danish Ensemble MidtVest.
Matthew has recorded twenty-two solo and chamber CDs, including ‘Britten: Reflections’with Annabel Thwaite, named Chamber CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine. Matthew is Head of Chamber Music and Professor of Viola at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and directs the Intermediate Course at Pro Corda.
Born in Swansea, Matthew is also a composer, mathematics graduate and teacher of the Alexander Technique and Kundalini Yoga. In the capacity of Alexander and Yoga/Meditation teacher he has worked individually with more than 1600 musicians and presented seminars and workshops on performance health worldwide.
Recognised as one of the most versatile and charismatic pianists, Annabel has won all the major accompanying prizes, including the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier, Gold Medal, and Richard Tauber Piano Prizes. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has toured throughout the world, most recently in Carnegie Hall, Canada and Denmark. She has collaborated with artists such as Bryn Terfel and Roberto Alagna, and chamber music with Ensemble Midtvest. Recently, she recorded the music for the Michael Clarke Dance Company and also for the BBC singers, to be aired on Radio 4 in March.
Annabel’s discography includes The Scottish Tenor for Universal Records, which was nominated for a Classical Brit Award. As a film session pianist, she has recorded the music for the Hollywood movie Awake, the BBC Jane Austen series Emma, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister and the Spanish film De tu Ventana. Five times the accompanist for the Festival of Welsh Male voice choirs, her performances at the Royal Albert Hall were recorded and released by Sain and have been aired on UK television. Further TV appearances include Blue Peter, The Rob Brydon Show and a documentary following a day in the life of Bryn Terfel for BBC 4.
Annabel’s extensive teaching includes writing a regular column for “Pianist” magazine. She is an Associated Board Music examiner, audition pianist and conductor and adjudicates at festivals and competitions, including the National Chamber Music Festival. In addition to being, Annabel is extremely committed to outreach projects, having been a member of the “Live Music Now!”and “Lost Chord”schemes. Future engagements include appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, Vale of Glamorgan and Fishguard Festivals and a series of recitals with Bryn Terfel.