Richard Lutz reviews the classical violinist suffused with the blues
Strange that of the five composers Ms Waley-Cohen presented at Birmingham Town Hall, two died in the same year.
Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin both passed away in 1937 – one in his sixties and the latter not yet 40. Both men were taken by American blues and, in her recital, the violinist used pieces relying heavily on Americana: Ravel’s Sonata no. 2 in G Major and Gershwin’s suite from Porgy and Bess.
Both were beautiful renditions of this genre; the Ravel sonata hard edged and at times atonal, the Gershwin (arranged by Jascha Heifetz) a swooping series of the composer’s operatic songs that summons up the heat of the South.
Ms Waley-Cohen also introduced an Oliver Knussen world premiere (Reflection) which the composer himself enjoyed in the Town Hall stalls and stood to applause after the violinist sought him out following her piece. He seemed happy with the result.
The evening was fleshed out with sonatas by Beethoven and Elgar and the soloist was ably accompanied by pianist Huw Watkins.