The Watkins brothers have reached volume three in their survey of British works for cello and piano. They have already shown a true affinity for this repertoire,
Gramophone remarking that ‘[they] have all this music in their very being.’ Vol. 3 concentrates on three works written in a short period immediately after the Second World War, by three composers of very different orientation and personality. Rubbra’s Sonata in G minor, Op. 60 is profoundly influenced by polyphonic music of the sixteenth century. In the first movement the cello’s arching melodic lines develop in a contrapuntal web with the piano, reaching an optimistic climax that subsides into serene tranquillity.
E.J. Moeran considered the Sonata in A minor to be one of his finest pieces. A dark intensity pervades the work, especially in the brooding opening movement. Emerging through this dark tone, however, we hear energetic dances, moments of beautiful lyricism, and the folk music of Norfolk and Ireland that was so important to Moeran.
In contrast to the wit and polish for which Alan Rawsthorne is often known, his Cello Sonata brings to the fore a more serious musical personality. As a composer who spent much of his time composing film and incidental music, Rawsthorne relished the chance to write this work of personal, intimate expression.
“The most stylistically striking piece is Rubbra's Sonata of 1946...The Watkins brothers, true to form, pay close attention to its rhythmic life, though they also know how to soar into beauty...[they] interact in a manner perhaps only possible with artists who shared a childhood together, cornflakes and all.” BBC Music Magazine