Irish Composers’ Collective present ‘The Strung Series’, Concert 1, at The Octagon Room, Irish Georgian Society, 21 January 2015

The Irish Composers’ Collective starts 2015 with the first offering in a new concert series devoted to solo violin, ‘The Strung Series’. Four concerts, spread between now and July, showcase an individual player and playing-tradition, with a mix of old and new music. Tonight it’s the turn of violinist Róisin Walters and the ‘classical violin’. A superbly talented player, it’s great to have the chance to hear her in an unaccompanied solo recital.

Her programme juxtaposes old and new, her instrument and technique the one constant, exploring its range and expressive power as well as hinting at its history and culture. Overhanging the classical repertoire of the violin is the figure of J.S. Bach, represented tonight by two movements from his Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin in A Minor, as well as the virtuosic opening movement ‘Obsession’ from Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, with its quotes from Bach’s Partita No. 3. Her approach to Bach is bold and uncompromisingly romantic (the early-music approach will be represented in the ‘baroque violin’ concert in March), shot through with a joyful brilliance, which she takes further in the Ysaÿe movement’s quick-fire wit.

These early works are nicely anticipated by Daniel Barkley’s Tripartita which opens the concert, with its teasing references to classical gestures which grow out of the interweaving of three thematic elements. This contrasts with Elis Czerniak’s meditative Mångata (which translates as ‘the road-like reflection of the moon in the water’) with its slow, deliberate form. Stephen Kavanagh’s Quintessence… rounds out the first half, a study in texture that explores iridescent string harmonics and varying intensities of tonal colour and purity.

The second half draws on Walters’ technical skills still further, with the demanding virtuosity of Paganini’s famous Caprice No. 24, and Collage, a concert étude by Chris Moriarty Pearson, boldly colouristic with sharp contrasts in tone and style. Preceding these is Breathing Notes by Maria Miguella, the only piece in tonight’s programme with an electroacoustic element, the amplified breath of the player combining with the colours of long-held notes on a loop pedal in a work of steady accumulation, creating a complex aural field with the tone of the violin at its heart.

To conclude, Walters offers a further piece by Ysaÿe, the complete Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, a strongly-felt work dedicated to the great violinist and composer Georges Enescu. Its heady romanticism, well characterised in Walter’s vivid and committed playing, brings this recital to an impressive  close.

Programme:

Daniel Barkley: Tripartita

J.S. Bach: ‘Andante’ and ‘Allegro’, from Sonata for Solo Violin No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003

Elis Czerniak: Mångata

Eugène Ysaÿe: ‘Obsession’, from Sonata for Solo Violin No. 2 in A Minor, ‘Jacques Thibaud’, Op. 27/2

Stephen Kavanagh: Quintessence…

Maria Minghella: Breathing Notes

Niccolò Paganini: Caprice No. 24 in A minor

Chris Moriarty Pearson: Collage

Ysaÿe: Sonata for Solo Violin No. 3 in D minor, ‘Georges Enescu’, Op. 27/3

Soloists:

Róisin Walters – Violin

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