Dvorák's music for violin and piano comes from many periods in his career. An early Sonata in A minor of 1873 is lost. Of the works which do survive, several, including the Notturno and Four Romantic Pieces, are skilful arrangements of earlier works (the Notturno is a reworking of the central section of the E minor String Quartet, while the Four Pieces were originally written for viola and piano).
Stravinsky’s collaboration with the violinist Samuel Dushkin was a great artistic success, generating new works for the repertoire as well as arrangements of some of the composer’s most tuneful and popular works. Of these arrangements, Dushkin wrote that Stravinsky seemed ‘to go back to the essence of the music and rewrite or recreate the music in the spirit of the new instrument’. Reviewing the current performers in The Independent, Bayan Northcott writes that ‘these are no ordinary transcriptions. In reducing items from The Firebird or The Fairy’s Kiss to the violin and piano medium, Stravinsky rethought and respaced their every chord’.
Long recognized as an outstanding chamber musician, Anthony Marwood has more recently been making waves as a concerto soloist, with two contributions to the Romantic Violin Concerto series and now a disc of Britten with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov. The youthful Violin Concerto, with its mix of anguished lyricism and changeability of mood nods to both Berg (whose own Violin Concerto had made a profound impression on Britten) and Prokofiev but the result is entirely personal.
While Mike Nichols' 1966 film of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? gets more frightening every time you watch it, Alexander North's score to the same film gets more consoling every time you hear it. Nichols' film, particularly the performances by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, has scenes of terrific intensity, but North's score, though faithful to what's on screen, has a tenderness, even a sweetness, that transforms the ultimate meaning of the film. Part of it is North's characteristically evocative orchestration with some cues delicately scored for guitar, celesta, bass clarinet, harpsichord, and a pair of harps, while others are scored for spare almost spooky winds arrayed against soothing strings. But most of it is North's soaring melodies and brooding harmonies – and especially his big-hearted main theme. By prefiguring the film's reconciliatory ending, the solace offered by North's score transfigures all the horrors enacted between Taylor and Burton.