Notes & Reviews:
Willem Pijper and Rudolf Escher are two major figures in 20th-century Dutch music. Pijper was a symphonist, composer of operas and a noted writer on music. The music of Escher, a student of Pijper, is influenced by Debussy, Schoenberg and Ravel. Ton de Leeuw and Alexander Voormolen are little-known outside of Holland. This is an important release of rarely heard music by the most influential Dutch composers of the last century, performed with passion and virtuosity by Philippe Graffin and Jelger Blanken.
The pieces by Pijper, Rudolf Escher, Alexander Voormolen and Ton de Leeuw set one thinking. Memorable are such moments as when the concluding scherzando of Pijper's Sonata No 1 transforms into a haunting adagio. And De Leeuw's tiny, spectral improvisation on a Dutch Christmas carol is itself a pure enigma.
Dutch 20th-century violin sonatas might be a niche area, but when an artist of Philippe Graffin's calibre espouses them you tend to sit up and take notice. Willem Pijper offers a unique slant on French Impressionism in two sonatas with piano while Rudolf Escher looks back to Ravel and voices personal anguish triggered by the Second World War.
First-rate, spry and sensitive playing makes Graffin's and Blanken's advocacy persuasive.
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