New CD Information from the Steinberg Duo/Nimbus Alliance Records (*)
Artist(s): Steinberg Duo
Composer(s): Edward Elgar & Philip Sawyers
Repertoire: Violin Sonatas
Catalogue No: NI6240 
Discs: Single CD/Standard Case
UK Dealer: £8.70
UK Release Date: 1st October 2013
Philip Sawyers (b1951): Violin Sonata No. 1 (1969); Violin Sonata No. 2 (2011); Edward Elgar: violin Sonata in E minor Op. 82 (1918)
If at first glance the pairing of Sawyers with Elgar seems strange, it is worth considering the similar musical environment in which all three works were written. Both composers were compelled to write in their own very individual style which proved unfashionable within musical circles for some of their career. Indeed much of Sawyers’ output was initially dismissed for failing to embrace the more esoteric, experimental and avant-garde techniques embraced by many of his contemporaries. Sawyers has always been compelled to write music that he “could hear” with every note serving an expressive purpose.
Similarly, by 1918 Elgar had become dejected with the modernist trends already gaining momentum in Europe and would write very little for the final 20 years of his life. For Sawyers, a busy professional life as a violinist in the Royal Opera House Orchestra left a 20 year hiatus in his output and this disc marks the first commercial release of his chamber music. In fact the Second Sonata was commissioned by the Steinberg Duo.
Philip Sawyers’ works have been performed and broadcast in many countries worldwide including USA, Canada, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, France and UK. Music-web International described the Nimbus Alliance CD of Sawyers’ orchestral work as “music of instant appeal and enduring quality”. Robert Matthew-Walker writing in Classical Source described the premiere of the second symphony by the London Mozart Players as a “deeply impressive work, serious in tone throughout, and genuinely symphonic… one of the finest new symphonies by a British composer I have heard in years…”
Philip Sawyers began composing as a teenager, shortly after picking up the violin for the first time at the age of 13. However, it has only been in the last few years that his talent has begun to be recognised with major commissions and performances by orchestras in the USA and frequent performances in Europe. His work has been performed by the London Mozart Players, Grand Rapids Symphony, Orchestra of the Swan, Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias, Fort Worth, Albany NY, Tuscon, Tulsa, Omaha and Modesto Symphony Orchestras. A second disc of orchestral work featuring the Concertante for violin, piano and strings, the cello concerto and second symphony has recently been recorded by the Orchestra of the Swan for release on the Nimbus Alliance label early in 2014.
Born in London in 1951, Philip Sawyers studied violin at Dartington College of Arts in Devon and then at Guildhall School of Music in London. In 1973, Sawyers joined the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden. During this period he also freelanced with other orchestras and chamber groups including the London Symphony Orchestra, the English National Opera Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, some West End theatre orchestras and in film, pop, and light music sessions leaving very little time for composition. Time was also taken up with teaching and coaching at various educational establishments. In 1997, he decided to opt for a quieter life, left the ROH, and undertook a year of postgraduate study at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Alongside composing, Sawyers now works as a freelance violinist, teacher and adjudicator having spent 12 years as an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music from 2001-2013.
Steinberg Duo are Louisa Stonehill (Violin) and Nicholas Burns (Piano)
Described by The Sunday Telegraph as having both “warm musicality” and “virtuosity”, the Steinberg Duo has performed in Canada, Spain, and Germany and throughout the UK. Formed in 2007, the duo are passionate about presenting the wonderful violin & piano repertoire as an equal partnership. Since 2009 they have curated a recital series in the beautifully intimate setting of the 1901 Arts Club on London’s Southbank and for the past two years, the duo have spent each January in residence at The Banff Centre in Canada.
Committed to supporting high quality contemporary music, the duo enjoy a particularly close association with composer Philip Sawyers, from whom they commissioned a second violin sonata in 2011. This disc will be followed by a further recording of Sawyers’ work, the Concertante for Piano, Violin and Strings with the Orchestra of the Swan.
Louisa and Nick married in 2008 and live in Greenwich, South-East London where they transformed a disused shop unit into a specialised chamber music studio. In this wonderfully intimate space they hold monthly recitals for local residents, giving their neighbours a rare opportunity to experience chamber music is its natural habitat, away from the concert hall. They are both committed educators, using the space for lessons and classes. Twice a year they organise a concert for their pupils in St. Alfege Church, giving the children the wonderful opportunity of regularly performing to a large audience.
The duo has studied intensively with eminent chamber musicians at home and abroad. They were regular participants in the Chamber Studio masterclasses at Kings Place 2010-12 and took part in the masterclasses at IMS Prussia Cove in 2010.
Louisa plays on a wonderful English violin made in early 2010 by Glen Collins. It is based on the Lord Wilton Guarneri del Jesu violin owned by the late Yehudi Menuhin. The Duo takes its name from Louisa’s original Polish surname which was anglicised by her father in the 1940s.
For more detail please visit www.steinbergduo.com
Additional Details & Marketing
The CD will be fully serviced to all UK classical music press and radio and key media overseas. Advertising will include major classical music magazines and publications.
Interviews with Louisa and Nicholas can be quickly arranged.
Please address requests for review copies and/or interview to firstname.lastname@example.org
Aside from the fact that the Sawyers pieces are World Premiere recordings, the Elgar Sonata is particularly of interest as in 2014 BBC R3 will be taking a close look at music in the build up to World War 1 and throughout the following period – so this is a timely release.
The Steinberg duo has an active concert schedule and will be performing the pieces featured on this CD in recitals over the coming months:
Sun 8th December Blackheath Halls
Sun 9th March 2014 Blenheim Concerts
Sun 23rd March 2014 Haddington Concert Society
Fri 2nd May 2014 Lord Wandsworth College, Hook
This is in addition to numerous other concerts in the diary featuring a wide range of repertoire. Full details can be viewed on the Steinberg Duo website.