The Great War Centenary (2018)

Respighi, Hesketh, Janacek, Debussy

Michael Foyle, Maksim Stsura

‘Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and yet cannot remain silent’, wrote Victor Hugo in 1864. Half a century later, his words had never felt more pertinent. Every composer writing during World War I found a unique way, through their music, to describe and protest against the horrors that were tearing civilization apart.

Created in the depth of morbidity, Debussy’s parting musical gift is a subtle, dignified and heroic celebration of youth and joie de vivre. A sense of patriotism in the war years links Debussy with the foremost Moravian composer of the day, Leoš Janá?ek. Ottorino Respighi was only in his thirties when the war broke out. His 1917 Sonata for violin and piano is a work of Romance written in the time of hate, a reminder that the past and the future remain beacons of hope in desperate times.

Commissioned for this recital programme to reflect on the centenary of The Great War from our own times, Kenneth Hesketh’s Inscrizione, derivata, subtitled ‘A lie to the Dying’, is a quasi-meditation on the dying man, his anxious thoughts and the spasms of his failing heart being weaved conspicuously into a narrative of disquieting melancholy.

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Michael Foyle

Michael Foyle (violin) won The Netherlands Violin Competition 2016, giving an acclaimed performance of Szymanowksi’s Concerto No.1 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2017-18 he returns to the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Polish Baltic Philharmonic with Korngold’s Concerto, and makes his Cadogan Hall debut playing Prokofiev’s Concerto No.1 with English Chamber Orchestra. Other London appearances this season include performances of the Beethoven, Dvorak, Elgar and Tchaikovsky concerti. Born in Ayrshire in 1991, Michael gave his concerto debut in Edinburgh Festival Theatre aged eight. He went on to win the BBC Young Musician of the Year Tabor Award 2008 and the Royal Overseas League String Competition 2013, before studying at the Vienna Konservatorium with Pavel Vernikov and in London with Maureen Smith and Daniel Rowland. Upon graduation from the Royal Academy of Music, he was awarded the Regency Prize for Excellence and the Roth Prize for the highest violin mark of the year. He has premiered solo and chamber works by over 25 living composers. Michael plays a Gennaro Gagliano violin (1750) on loan and is represented by Interartists Amsterdam. In addition to his solo and chamber performances this season, he is invited as Guest-Leader of BBC Symphony Orchestra and as Violin Professor at Royal Academy of Music. 

photo: from booklet 'The Great War Centenary'

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The Great War Centenary (2018)

Respighi, Hesketh, Janacek, Debussy

Michael Foyle, Maksim Stsura

    HRAudio.Net -

A hundred years ago one of the most destructive wars in Europe ended without solving the underlying socio-economic problems. During ‘The Great War’, many reflected on how to express their feelings. Michael Foyle (violin) and Maksim Štšura (piano) collected three violin sonatas written during those years, complementing it with ‘A Lie to the Dying’ recently written for this duo. Not all sonatas are equally expressive. The liner notes describe in detail the facts and the thoughts behind the title. In my view the most emotionally laden is Janácek’s Violin Sonata JW VII/7, written in 1914, although repeated revisions took it to publication of a final version in 1921. It amazes me time and again that so much talent is available. And we owe it to independent labels like Challenge Classics that we get to know them instead of constantly having to sit in a carousel of limited numbers of acknowledged ‘names’ to satisfy our hunger for classical music. Of course, the violinist, Michael Foyle, has already established himself in The Netherlands after having won a prestigious Dutch violin competition. And naturally also on his home turf, the United Kingdom. Elsewhere, so it seems to me, his growing and glowing star is still kept under wraps. Well, here he is: Beautiful tone (1750 Genaro Gagliano violin on loan), compelling agility and persuasive presentation, those are some of his hallmarks. I do not know for how long Michael Foyle has been partnered with pianist Maksim Štšura (in any case since 2015), but in a short time span their teamwork has become impeccable. Both shifting so admirably from one musical idiom (French: Debussy) to another (Czech: Janácek) and yet two more totally different ones (Italian: Respighi; British: Hesketh). How much better would you like to have it?

Adrian Quanjer[read full review]

The Great War Centenary (2018)

Respighi, Hesketh, Janacek, Debussy

Michael Foyle, Maksim Stsura

Cables: Siltech Mono-Crystal
Digital Converters: dCS and Merging Technologies
Mastering Engineer: Bert van der Wolf
Microphones: Sonodore microphones
Producer: Bert van der Wolf
Recording Engineer: Bert van der Wolf | Recording Assistant: Martijn van der Wolf
Recording location:

Westvest Church, Schiedam, the Netherlands: 18 - 20 April 2018

Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD

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CC72786: The Great War Centenary
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Tracks.
1.
Violin Sonata in G Minor L.140 - Allegro vivo
Debussy
00:04:55   Select quality & channels above
2.
Violin Sonata in G Minor L.140 - Intermede, fantastique et leger
Debussy
00:04:20   Select quality & channels above
3.
Violin Sonata in G Minor L.140 - Finale, tres anime
Debussy
00:04:29   Select quality & channels above
4.
Violin Sonata JW. VII-7 - Con moto
Janacek
00:05:21   Select quality & channels above
5.
Violin Sonata JW. VII-7 - Balada
Janacek
00:04:55   Select quality & channels above
6.
Violin Sonata JW. VII-7 - Allegretto
Janacek
00:02:35   Select quality & channels above
7.
Violin Sonata JW. VII-7 - Adagio
Janacek
00:04:52   Select quality & channels above
8.
Inscrizione (derivata) - A Lie to the Dying
Hesketh
00:08:44   Select quality & channels above
9.
Violin Sonata in B Minor P 110 - Moderato
Respighi
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10.
Violin Sonata in B Minor P 110 - Andanto espressivo
Respighi
00:08:34   Select quality & channels above
11.
Violin Sonata in B Minor P 110 - Passacaglia, Allegro moderato ma energico
Respighi
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