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Jim Svejda
Fanfare, August 2019

…All nine instruments are given interesting things to say, and the London Chamber Ensemble clearly relishes the piece, playing as though they’re certain that they’ve made a major discovery. The three shorter works are all masterpieces of deft concision, with the two-minute Rondo for Dancing effortlessly stealing the show. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Limelight, July 2019

Welsh rare bits of chamber music make for an appetising discovery.

Violinist Madeleine Mitchell produces a pure line and is impressively precise in the Sonata, where she is strongly matched by Russian pianist Konstantin Lapshin. David Owen Norris, a British music specialist, shines in the Sarabande and the Sextet, while trumpeter Bruce Nockles also proves a great asset. Sound quality is excellent. Altogether, an exciting release. © 2019 Limelight Read complete review

Barry Kilpatrick
American Record Guide, July 2019

It is easy to hear why people are paying attention to the music of Welsh composer Grace Williams (1906-77): it is serious and tuneful, and it holds one’s attention (J/A 2017).

The big piece is the Sextet for oboe, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, and piano (1931). Intense, but with emotions seemingly repressed much of the time, the four-movement, 31-minute work requires trumpeter Bruce Nockles to hold his dynamic level down to match the quieter instruments—at least until IV, where he is allowed to let loose a little. Nockles is also the lone brass player in the three-movement, 14-minute Suite for Nine Instruments (1934), where he interacts with flute, clarinet, string quintet, and piano. Here Ms Williams seems to say that she could express strong emotions, especially in the hard-driving I. Much of II is mysterious, and III is intense and energetic. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

The Northern Echo, May 2019

A worthy homage to a fascinating composer. © 2019 The Northern Echo

iClassical, May 2019

The Violin Sonata is a punchy, three-movement work that Williams wrote whilst she was in her twenties. This piece, lasting just short of twenty minutes, in which Mitchell is joined by Konstantin Lapshin, gets the collection of to a fine start.

These pieces…they are immensely listenable and deserve to be heard by a wider audience and I, for one, am extremely grateful to Madeleine Mitchell for her bringing this project to fruition and leading such spirited performances with just the right degree of flair. This is a valuable addition to the recorded catalogue and one that, I hope, will encourage listeners to explore further recordings of Grace Williams’ music. © 2019 iClassical Read complete review

Richard Bratby
Gramophone, May 2019

A powerful musical personality, well served by some gripping interpretations. More, please. © 2019 Gramophone

Michael Quinn
Classical Ear, April 2019

Delicately championed by Madeleine Mitchell, the graceful Violin Sonata (1930, revised 1938) shares some kinship in its morosely lyrical middle movement with Williams’ one-time tutor, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The London Chamber Ensemble play with exemplary reciprocity, conviction and persuasive charm throughout. © 2019 Classical Ear Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, April 2019

The album features a number of premiere recordings of chamber works, some six in all, played well by the London Chamber Ensemble under violinist/director Madeleine Mitchell. The jacket copy lauds Ms. Williams as Wales’ most accomplished composer. She studied with Vaughan Williams and Egon Wellesz, attended the Royal College of Music, and left behind a distinguished body of works if this volume is any indication.

It is a CD I am sure I will return to again and again. And it alerts me to want to hear what else Grace Williams produced in her lifetime, for she clearly had something to say musically. I recommend this one heartily. © 2019 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Read complete review

BBC Music Magazine, April 2019

Madeleine Mitchell makes eloquent work of the Violin Sonata. © 2019 BBC Music Magazine

The Strad, April 2019

Mitchell and pianist Konstantin Lapshin give an attractive account of the Violin Sonata. © 2019 The Strad

James Manheim, April 2019

Williams expertly handles the larger chamber groups there and in the Stravinskian Suite for Nine Instruments, creating unexpected sonorities throughout. The works Williams wrote after World War II, which took a toll on her mental health, seem to be by turns extremely experimental (the Sarabande for piano left hand of 1958, which ought to enter the left-hand repertory immediately) or more pastoral than previously (the Rondo for Dancing for two violins and optional cello, 1970, which is the only one of the whole bunch that does sound like Vaughan Williams). Mitchell assembles a fine collection of chamber players in what is obviously a labor of love. Brava! © 2019 Read complete review

Records International, April 2019

Three full-length works and three very short ones, all unpublished except for the sonata, give us new insight into the early years of this outstanding Welsh composer. The 1930 (rev. 1938) violin sonata has much of Bartók and Shostakovich in its outer movements but the slow movement, using a folk tune, is in the vein of Vaughan Williams. Almost half the disc is occupied by the sextet (1931), a 31-minute piece, modernist for its time, whose third movement has similarities to Britten and the 13-minute suite from 1934 is even more modern and astringent, at times suggesting Stravinsky. London Chamber Ensemble; Madeleine Mitchell (violin). © 2019 Records International

Philip R Buttall
MusicWeb International, April 2019

The playing from the London Chamber Ensemble (all members are identified individually on the CD) is absolutely first-rate throughout, and the recording is most faithfully balanced to capture the feel of a live performance, while still produced in the studio.

Mitchell’s solo contribution on the violin is second to none, where she plays throughout with a highly-studied and totally idiomatic feeling for the composer’s eminently-emotional style which, of course, adds considerably to the success of this debut recording. But in her alternative role as director, she so evidently communicates her quite-recent love for, and heartfelt appreciation of Williams, and her chamber music in particular, to which each of her co-performers appears totally sympathetic, and equally committed.

Whether you listen to the whole disc in one go, or pick a few works to sample, this CD is very hard to put down, and will undoubtedly encourage you to investigate more of Grace Williams’s larger-scale works in other genres, and soon come to realise that there is far more to Wales’s foremost female composer than a Fantasia on indigenous nursery tunes might suggest.

…in summing up this highly-desirable release on the Naxos label, it might be most apt to say ‘Iechyd da’ (‘cheers’) to her [Madeleine Mitchell] for the vital part she has played in introducing the undeniably-attractive chamber music of Grace Williams to music-lovers everywhere. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, March 2019

You may be familiar by earlier issues with the orchestral music of Grace Williams but as this disc proves, her chamber works are well worth investigating for the more adventurous listener. Grace Williams is widely considered to be Wales’ foremost female composer. She studied with Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music and Egon Wellesz in Vienna, composing in many genres throughout her life. Her chamber music, recorded here for the first time, spans 40 years. This release features all world premiere recordings, as works by Williams are rarely recorded. © 2019 Classical CD Choice

The Guardian, March 2019

It’s a persuasive disc to dip into, one to spark interest in Williams’s other works. © 2019 The Guardian

Norman Lebrecht
my/maSCENA, March 2019

A superb sextet is redolent of Vaughan Williams at his most pastoral, a violin sonata of Frank Bridge at his most nautical. A suite for 9 instruments would have pleased Nadia Boulanger for its Stravinsky hints.

Mitchell puts heart and soul into the violin sonata and leads the rest with fizz and flair. © 2019 my/maSCENA Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2019

I am pleased that the British Music Society has joined with Naxos to distribute their recordings to a world-wide audience, this being particularly so for Grace Williams. A pupil of Vaughan Williams at London’s Royal College of Music and Egon Wellesz in Vienna, her music came at a time in the early 1930’s when female composers were still unfashionable, though she was to write in every genre, from chamber music to opera. Her time spent at college came when the world was still coming to terms with the legacy of the Second Viennese School, though in England that mode of composing was not viewed with favour by audiences in the concert hall.  The present disc brings together six works for solo and various chamber groups, opening with a three-movement Violin Sonata that has the feeling of wishing to embrace tradition, yet moving it gently forward with Bartok’s influence hovering around. Certainly it is a score that is pleasing on the ear, though it is one that requires the performers to shape it rather than to allow it to simply emerge. The duo of the London-based Russian pianist, Konstantin Lapshin, and violinist Madeleine Mitchell, are certainly strong advocates, with Mitchell’s perfect intonation a particular joy. Her participation then continues throughout much of the well-filled disc. The most extensive score, the Sextet is in four movements, was completed in 1931 and within the Schoenberg era, yet employing conventional melodic material. It is unusual in using the six members in different permutations, but seldom all at once, the composer’s favourite instrument, the trumpet, in a ‘singing’ voice being somewhat unique. We have a very beguiling melody for the slow movement, and a traditional final tarantella. The performers are the London Chamber Ensemble, a group containing many well-known soloists with Mitchell as the group’s Director. The Suite for Nine Instruments from 1934, written for flute, clarinet, trumpet, piano, and string quintet, has a French influence in its ‘naughtiness’, Jacques Ibert – perhaps? Three short ‘fillers’ complete an immaculately recorded disc, and I hope you enjoy these World Premiere Recordings that I recommend to you. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, February 2019

One of Williams’ greatest assets was the ability to write terse yet well-developed music. The entire Violin Sonata, for instance, runs only 18 minutes long though it is in three movements, and even the longest work on this CD—the Sextet, which runs 31:17—does not tire the listener or overstay its welcome. Unlike many composers of her time, Williams did not really follow any of the most common trends in modern classical music of her time. Although even the Violin Sonata, which is the earliest work presented here (written in 1930), uses decidedly modern harmonic changes, it is largely tonal or modal and does not follow the styles of Stravinsky, Bartók, Honegger, Hindemith, Schoenberg or Shostakovich. She was her own person and wrote in a style that can only be termed personal.

What an interesting composer, and what splendid and spirited performances these are! This disc will surely intrigue and impress you. © 2019 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review

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