Madeleine Mitchell releases Grace Williams album on Naxos

On 8th March 2019 Naxos releases an album of Grace Williams Chamber Music – all world premiere recordings – featuring her Violin Sonata, performed by Madeleine Mitchell who also directs her London Chamber Ensemble from the violin in the two other substantial chamber works. Madeleine Mitchell first discovered Grace WilliamsViolin Sonata, in manuscript form, when researching violin music by Welsh composers at Ty Cerdd, the Welsh Music Information Centre, in Cardiff. Subsequently performing the work in Bangor led to a discovery, through the National Library of Wales, of the other works on this album, all unpublished. Inspired by the music and passionate about bringing it to the audience it deserves, Madeleine embarked on this major recording project.Grace Williams (1906-1977) is widely regarded as Wales’ foremost female composer, but her work has been unjustly neglected, with none of these works recorded until now. She won the Morfydd Owen scholarship to Cardiff University and from 1926-1930 she studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gordon Jacob, along with fellow students Elizabeth Maconchy and Benjamin Britten, both of whom became life-long friends. Williams wrote her Violin Sonata in Vienna in 1930, having been awarded a travelling scholarship to study with Egon Wellesz, but it has only recently been published and has never been recorded. The slow second movement, reminiscent of Vaughan Williams, can stand on its own and has been published separately. A year later Williams composed her substantial Sextet for Oboe, Trumpet, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, followed by the more modernistic Suite for Nine Instruments in 1934, the premiere well received. The album also includes three short pieces from later years: the charming Romanza for oboe and bass clarinet, the Sarabande for Piano Left Hand, written for a friend of the composer and the spirited Rondo for Dancing for Two Violins, as part of an album of teaching pieces for the Guild of Welsh Music at the time Williams wrote her major late work, the Missa Cambrensis. Known internationally for her championship of British music (both early 20th century and contemporary, in concert and in a widely praised discography), this is Madeleine Mitchell’s third album of British music for Naxos. She is joined by a distinguished roster of musicians.

 

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