Jennifer Pike announces new album featuring the original version of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending for violin and piano
Release date: 31 July 2020
Jennifer Pike releases a new album of works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams with pianist Martin Roscoe on 31 July (Chandos).
Following on from her successful album ‘The Polish Violin’ last year, Jennifer Pike now turns her attention to British repertoire, exploring the other side of her heritage with a new album coming out this summer. She has purposefully chosen a programme including both well-known and rare gems of violin repertoire that both hold a special place in British musical culture, and have had an indelible imprint on Pike’s own musical identity.
The album opens with Elgar’s Violin Sonata, an important decision for Pike, as she credits him with inspiring her to take up her instrument; “in many ways I found my path to the violin through Elgar.” The composer’s music was some of the first that Pike ever performed, and continues to enthrall her to this day; “The way he is able to exploit the sonorities of the violin has captivated me throughout my life. The profound lyricism and intensity so synonymous with Elgar is never far from the surface in the violin sonata, and yet the violin is drawn to the edge of daring, fantastical sound worlds through transparent, mystical textures that seem to look forward to a new era of violin writing.”
The album also features Vaughan Williams’ own Violin Sonata, one of the composer’s later works written just a few years before his death, a masterpiece which Jennifer believes deserves to be performed more often. On this album, Pike wanted to explore the diversity and stark contrasts of Vaughan Williams’ music, pairing “the tranquil, serene soundscapes of The Lark Ascending and the searing, tempestuous and at times profoundly bleak terrain of his violin sonata”. Although different in musical style she believes the two works hold a “curious bond” and hopes to offer audiences a unique opportunity to connect with the genius of this composer by exploring the evolving sound worlds of the composer’s voice over his lifetime.
The final piece on the album is the original 1914 version of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ one-movement work The Lark Ascending which was premiered 100 years ago in 1920. Pike has a personal affiliation with the score, and has performed it around the world, as well as recorded it with choir and chamber orchestra on two previous releases.
This work has seen a particular surge in popularity in the last few years, having recently topped Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame’ chart for the tenth time. Pike hopes this recording will shine a light on the lesser-known original. She explains that, although both versions are powerful in their own ways, “The original version for violin and piano offers a more intimate journey with bell-like colours emanating from the depths of the piano, feeling a world away from the epic, sweeping sostenuto of the orchestral version but equally poignant in its own way.”