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CHAN 9596
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CHAN 9596

Carwithen: Violin Sonata/ String Quartets

The Classical Shop
release date: January 1998

Originally recorded in 1997


Julian Milford

Lydia Mordkovitch

, violin

Sorrel Quartet


Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk

St Bartholemews Church, Orford, Suffolk


Ralph Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Richard Smoker


Record Label




Total Time - 59:46
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  premiere recordings  

String Quartet No. 1

1 I Allegro moderato 6:19
2 II Lento 7:21
3 III Allegro 6:32

String Quartet No. 2

4 I Adagio 9:46
5 II Allegro 10:06

Sonata for Violin and Piano

6 I Allegretto con moto 7:45
7 II Vivace 5:10
8 III Moderato 6:47

This, the second album in Chandos’ exploration of the music of Doreen Carwithen features the premiere recordings of both the Violin Sonata and the two String Quartets. The recordings were made in the presence of the composer, who was extremely pleased with the results - the ultimate seal of approval!

The artists featured on this recording are particularly well suited to the repertoire - Lydia Modkovitch with her passionate and emotionally charged virtuosity, the Sorrel Quartet with their insightful and intuitive interpretations.

Carwithen’s First Quartet was premiered at a chamber concert given at the Royal Academy of Music by the Zorian Quartet, with Vaughan Williams present in the audience. He chatted to Carwithen after the perfomance and was most complimentary about the work - except for the Coda, which contains seven bars of ponticello, a technique which he apparently disliked!

The Second Quartet  is written in two extended movements. It begins on the viola, using a minor second, and it is this interval which is used throughout the first movement, sometimes inverted making a major seventh. The allegro second movement uses a busy semiquaver pattern, tossed around among the instruments with much syncopation until a long trill on the viola leads to a broad tune accompanied by major sevenths. A coda based on the first movement follows, until the viola again plays the opening monor second and is joined by the rest of the quartet in unison.

The Violin Sonata is a later work than the quartets. It is in three movements, but these are not in the usual pattern of moderato, slow, vivace; nor do they follow a strictly sonata-form structure. The work is full of virtuoso writing for both instruments throughout.

"...Everything is beautifully written for the instruments - there is never a sense of straining for effort, never the slightest loss of poise - yet the music throbs with rhythmic vitality and expansive lyricism. These admirable qualities are rendered with sensitive musicianship and the joy of discovery by the performers and captured in Chandos’s dependably vivid, natural sonics. This is a wonderful disc that all lovers of chamber music should hear."

Lehman - American Record Guide - July/August 1998

"...Recommended to all musical Anglophiles."

Paul A Snook - Fanfare - July/August 1998

"...Its a CD to return to again and again. Good performances all round ..."

The Delian - April 1998

"...The Sorrel Quartet gives a sensitive and refined performance ... Lydia Mordkovitvh and Julian Milford give a fine reading of the Violin Sonata ... Milford giving excellent support throughout ..."

Catherine Nelson - The Strad - July 1998

"...Her [Carwithen] emergence from neglect is welcome and deserved, and all the players on this admirably recorded disc serve her well."

Michael Oliver - Classic CD - March 1998

Classical CD of the Week’

"...Her [Carwithen] two string quartets were written half a century ago, and fully merit the spirited championship which the Sorrel Quartet here extends. Carwithen herself a cellist, writes inventively and sensitively for the instruments with textural interest, sinewy themes and powerful impetus. The later violin sonata is a passionate outpouring, strong and purposeful ... In this chamber music her talents are potently distilled."

Geoffrey Norris - The Daily Telegraph - 31 January 1998

"...Lydia Mordkovitch and Julian Milford play the sonata as if they had been doing it for years ... and the same applies to the excellent Sorrel Quartet. It goes without saying that Chandos’s sound is spot on."

Tempo - October 1999

With Julian Milford an outstanding partner… brings out the warmth and the high dramatic contrasts of the writing.

A Troostheiden

E Belcher