|With all music, Ms Marsden's performances are strong, communicative and risk-taking events; thus, her admirers have sometimes feared that the recording studio's clinical conduit might impair her vivacity. This issue makes it clear that such worries were groundless…|
Accompanied here by the first-class pianist, Robert Chamberlain, [Marsden] plays violin sonatas of Grieg and Nielsen, as well as avant-garde pieces by Australians Peter Sculthorpe and Christian Heim, whose "Transformation: is dedicated to her and with its peppy rhythms is particularly engaging. She masters this unusual programme with a spiritual violin tone, some what reminiscent of the young Isaac Stern. At the same time, Marina Marsden creates wonderful phrases with inaudible bow changes; her technical playing ability is extraordinary – the surprise classical CD of the month!
Gunnar Cohrs (transl. M.Marsden).
Bremer Magazine, February 1996
Marsden and Chamberlain's well-varied recital should have something for everyone. Opening with Grieg's impetuously romantic Sonata No 1 and then moving to Sculthorpe's ornithological Irkanda I for solo violin, Marsden shows herself a versatile performer, at home in a variety of idioms. Chamberlain offers solid but understanding support throughout, and both players enjoy themselves in Kreisler's Caprice Viennois, which concludes the programme.
The Age, August 1995
What a pleasant surprise. This is a wonderful recital, full of passion, fire and the joy of life. The two major works on this disc… are performances that jump out and grab your attention with their sheer exhilaration. Sculthorpe's Irkanda I is thoughtfully done and Kreisler's salon piece is played with great skill and affection.
The Australian, April 1996
A beautifully played and recorded recital of music old and new for violin and piano from Australia's Tall Poppies imprint. Marina Marsden programmes the doyen of Australian 20th century music Peter Sculthorpe against youthful Grieg, and young Australian Christian Heim against Carl Nielsen, before finishing with a Kreisler encore. Both the Grieg and Nielsen pieces come from relatively early in their careers but still show more than traces of the composers' characteristic musical fingerprints. As far as Grieg is concerned, this is particularly true of the central Allegretto quasi andantino, with its incorporation of Norwegian folk motifs - song and springar (folk dance). Nielsen continual reinvention of Brahms into something more vital and specific to his native Denmark, or at least Scandinavia, is evident here as much as in the later symphonic and orchestral works. The energy unleashed in the opening Allegro glorioso is typical as is the rhythmic drive. Grieg went on to write two further violin sonatas and Nielsen one but no-one interested in Scandinavian classical music can afford to miss their first efforts in the genre - they may not be the masterpieces of later years but they are a great deal more than derivative juvenilia. Marsden and Chamberlain's performance hear is pretty much ideal.
Peter Sculthorpe named a whole series of works with the word Irkanda, meaning "a remote and lonely place" in native Australian. This unaccompanied piece is also a relatively early work but is entirely idiomatic. The trademark "bird calls" are in there along with various uses of the violin other than conventional bowing - "pizzicato, harmonics and tremolando" add to the colours of the music which is a typically affecting nature essay by Sculthorpe. If you enjoy this piece, there are various discs available on the same label which deal solely with his music, including the magnificent string quartets.
Christian Heim is only just in his forties and wrote Transformations in his early thirties. It is an interesting piece, starting off with solo violin almost like an Australian Lark Ascending before entering a more dissonant phase. About halfway through, a greater order sets in and there is then an obvious comparison to be drawn with the expanded minimalism of Adams etc. as the piece wends its melodic way back to a final return to the tranquil opening mood. It certainly left me feeling that I would like to hear more by this composer. Marsden and Chamberlain first met in Vienna in 1985 and have played together ever since which may explain the inclusion of the Kreisler item - a Viennese bonbon cast in sharp contrast to the haunting Sculthorpe and tumbling Nielsen in particular.
As I have said in previous reviews of Tall Poppies material, the disc is a tribute to the company's production values, not only in terms of the music but the planning that goes into the programming and the packaging, including some superb and extensive booklet notes. Highly recommended to anyone fond of mixed composer chamber recitals.
Music Web International