This outstanding debut release provides a touchstone from which the musical career of Isobel Daws will surely be marked.
The demands of its repertoire are impressive enough, yet placed in the context of a personal trajectory that has emerged from a time when openly questioning the very path she wanted to take, the results are remarkable. Her future is now focussed by a world class vision, living and working as part of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s Karajan Academy.
Her openness mirrors a personality that hallmarks the performances themselves; the eight works demanding in ambition, virtuosity and engagement.
Isobel Daws' command of the instrument is complete; a versatile, ironclad technique enveloped by mature musical understanding - perfectly weighted counterbalances enhanced by a full spectrum of tonal colours, insight and phrasing melisma.
The CD opens with the Pryoresque ‘A Dream of Fire’, a waltz of sparkling, razor sharp wit that flits across the recording floor as if Dorothy Parker was taking part in ‘Come Dancing’.
It forms part of a triptych of compositions of commanding virtuosity, including the tortuous brilliance of Brian Lynn’s remarkable ‘Doolallynastics’ – as terrifying in its almost psychopathic leanings as it is terrific; a mix of trauma technique meets scream out loud Hammer House of Horror.
including the tortuous brilliance of Brian Lynn’s remarkable ‘Doolallynastics’ – as terrifying in its almost psychopathic leanings as it is terrific; a mix of trauma technique meets scream out loud Hammer House of Horror.
The third is Jim Maynard’s ‘Vistas’, specially written for Isobel Daws in the form of a three-movement portrait framed by the perspective of a window view into the composer’s back garden.
Each recalls complex emotions and meditations brought by the passing seasons, atmospheric pollution and even the slightly comedic skein of flying geese, all distant honkings and balletic beauty. It is played with refined, elegant consideration.
Their counterbalances come with the restrained longing of Elgar’s ‘Romance’, richly forlorn and distant, and Schumann’s ‘Adagio and Allegro’, which displays its passions like a fresh puff of perfume that lingers enticingly close to the skin.
The soloist draws linear lines (aided throughout by the excellent skills of pianist Timothy End) with a richness of flow that is never bogged down by the emotional ballast,
The soloist draws linear lines (aided throughout by the excellent skills of pianist Timothy End) with a richness of flow that is never bogged down by the emotional ballast, whilst Jongen’s ‘Aria et Polonaise’ is diffused like a memory of a passionate dance brought fresh once more to the mind’s eye.
All this and the love of song is also evoked by Poulenc’s delightful ‘Les Chemins de l’amour’ – as delicate as it is sumptuous, and Ponce’s ‘Estrellita’ – a BONE-AFIDE quartet played with the camaraderie of old friends walking home arm in arm from an old back street tavern in Mexico City under a velvet star-sprinkled sky.
1. A Dream of Fire (Saskia Apon)
2. Vistas (Jim Maynard)
5. Romance (Edward Elgar)
6. Doolallynastics (Brian Lynn)
7. Aria et Polonaise (Joseph Jongen)
8. Les Chemins de l’amour (Francis Poulenc)
9. Adagio & Allegro (Robert Schumann arr. Thomas Pilsbury)
10. Estrellita (Manuel Ponce)