Madeleine Mitchell’s Violin Conversations out on Naxos today!

Friday 23rd June 2023

The album features 8 world premiere recordings from Errollyn Wallen, Wendy Hiscocks, Douglas Khehans, Howard Blake and more.

Violin Conversations is out now

Described by The Times as ‘one of the UK’s most lively musical forces and foremost violinists’, Madeleine Mitchell shares a collection of violin pieces that includes eight world premiere recordings, six of which were written specifically for her. Ahead of the release, the violinist talked about her experience of collaborating with living composers and reflected on how this process can revitalise her approach to historical works in a piece for Classical Music Magazine.

Violin Conversations is a unique portrait of Mitchell’s legacy from working closely with living composers in a variety of styles, and the dialogues between them.

Her love of art is reflected in the album cover, which is a painting by her late Mother, Evelyn Mitchell née Jones (1924–2020).

Mist Waves is a moving composition for violin and piano by American-Australian composer Douglas Knehans. The piece is inspired by a cloud that forms in waves on land and serves as a metaphor for a particular type of human consciousness.

Martin Butler’s Barcarolles is a piece of music that draws inspiration from the traditional folk songs sung by Venetian gondoliers while on the water. It has a fantasy-like quality.

Errollyn Wallen’s composition, Sojourner Truth, is inspired by the life and legacy of the abolitionist and women’s rights activist. 

Madeleine Mitchell with Errollyn Wallen

Richard Blackford wrote Worlds Apart for Mitchell and Nicholas Snowman, as a commission to support Help Musicians (UK) during the Covid-19 pandemic. The title of the piece is a reference to the mandatory separation of families, lovers, and friends during the lockdown period.

Howard Blake collaborated closely with Mitchell on The Snowman, and added a new pas de deux love duet with the Ice Princess in the ballet’s second act.

Madeleine Mitchell with composer Howard Blake

American composer Kevin Malone created Your Call is Important To Us for violin and on-hold sounds, using phone recordings of call-waiting that he collected over three years. The violin part of the piece reflects the growing frustration of waiting on hold, similar to Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat.

The album also features tributes to late friends and colleagues of the violinist, including a performance of Alan Rawsthorne’s Violin Sonata with pianist Andrew Ball. The live BBC recording honors Ball, who passed away in 2022, after a 20-year partnership with Madeleine.

This piece, along with Thea Musgrave’s Colloquy are great examples of mid-20th century violin repertoire. Two short pieces by Howard Blake and Joseph Horovitz, who were close to Mitchell, have been added and never recorded before.

Madeleine Mitchell with composer Thea Musgrave

Madeleine has been featured in the Rewind feature of BBC Music Magazine’s July Issue, The Strad’s Session Report (also available online here), and Presto Classical’s New Release round-up for 23 June, which was followed with an interview detailing the collaborations on the album. She has appeared on Times Radio (24 June) for an interview with Alexis Conran about the album and her distinguished career thus far, and her recording of Wendy Hiscock’s Caprice was recently featured on Scala Radio’s Culture Bunker, hosted by Jack Pepper.

Following the release of the album, Madeleine will be giving a concert with her London Chamber Ensemble for the Schubert Society of GB on 29 June, with Schubert Cello Quintet and the première of the newly discovered original version of Herbert Howells String Quartet No. 3 ‘In Gloucestershire’ (1916) and multiple performances in the Orfeo Music Festival from 4 – 12 July.