Retorica: English Violin Duos

Retorica: English Violin Duos

NMC Recordings
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 Inspired by their friendships with composers John McCabe and David Matthews, Retorica's debut album features English violin duos: Moeran's Sonata and Rawsthorne's Theme and Variations contrast with new works from McCabe, Matthews and Jim Aitchison - plus a 17th-century Sonata from William Croft.

Philippa Mo & Harriet Mackenzie, violins




'Superbly responsive playing by Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo who project the music's often intricate contrapuntal interweaving with faultless technique and unfailing insight. An auspicious release from Retorica ...I hope that more will follow' Gramophone

'Music at once individual, fresh, interesting, and varied' International Record Review

‘Rawsthorne’s scores remain undervalued and underperformed, certainly in regard to their considerable worth’ Colin Anderson’ IRR

‘The performances by Harriet Mackenzie and Philippa Mo, the duo of Retorica, seem exemplary, the sound is excellent and the annotation includes notes written by the living composers’ Colin Anderson, IRR

'Bach and other composers show how much can be done with a solo violin, so it is no surprise that the violin duo, seemingly a convenience of the instrumental lesson, can yield the riches vividly displayed by Retorica. EJ Moeran's Sonata is a substantial essay, pastorally flavoured, with a  dazzling central presto. John McCabe's Spielend, like David Matthews's Eight Duos, Op 79, were specially commissioned and come over strongly. There's a rare, buoyant 18th-century Sonata by William Croft, but best of all is the Theme and Variations (1937), by Alan Rawsthorne,a hidden-away but patent little masterpiece.' The Sunday Times

'Retorica brings admirable lucidity to the complex intertwining of the two instruments ... they play a dangerous game of testing each other's virtuosity.' The Strad

'It is clear that [Retorica] not only understand the subtleties of the music they are playing but they want to ‘wow’ you into loving it as much as they do. In this they totally succeed.' Composition Today

‘David Matthew’s Eight Duos provides a short sequence of brilliant, pictorial miniatures. Church bells ring out on pizzicato notes, and the English pastoral tradition is invoked. All so cunningly, cleverly written. Performances are uniformly excellent’ The Arts Desk

‘Interesting and unusual recital. They play with plenty of assurance and dash, and are recorded in vivid sound(in an airy). Moeran’s sonata and Rawsthorne’s Theme and variations- both works I’ve never seen recorded before-are for me the high points of Retorica’s program, combining superb craft and shapely formal logic with idiomatic and imaginative use of instruments and nuanced, poignant, expressive power. They are more than enough reason to buy this collection’  American Record Guide

‘the record strikes an excellent balance: it is both intimate but with sufficient acoustic spaciousness for the music to feel full’ Composition Today

‘This smart pair delivers well constructed and varied program…There’s much to admire in the work’s modes, long pedals, whispering effects and boisterous fiddling’ La Folia


This recording has been supported by the RVW, John Ireland and Rawsthorne Trusts.


All works were recorded between 4-5 & 15-16 February 2010 at Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk

Recording Producer: JEREMY HAYES
Sound Engineer and Editor: PETER NEWBLE

(P) 2012 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2012 NMC Recordings Ltd

Catalogue number: NMC D182
Release Date: 3 September 2012