Former child prodigy Jennifer Pike, who stunned the music world by winning the BBC Musician of the Year competition at the age of 12 performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, has matured into one of the major talents of her generation.
At just 23, and after studies at Oxford University, the English virtuoso impresses again with the latest in her growing discography. Accompanied by Scottish pianist Tom Poster, Pike’s 1708 Goffriller instrument sings sweetly on this beautiful and intimate program.
From the hauntingly lovely opening bars of the Brahms Sonata the listener knows they are in for special treat. Pike’s phrasing throughout is full and mature – never hurried, never over the top – but with beautiful lines and pitch-perfect intonation. She and Poster enjoy a warm symbiosis which is entirely apt for the works of three composers who were locked together by fate. The interplay between the two in the Allegretto of Robert’s Sonata is a feature. Pike lingers just long enough on the sustained notes that lead into the playful passages.
The disc is neatly rounded off by Three Romances by Clara. Much has been made of her abilities as a pianist and teacher – admired by Chopin, Liszt and a whole army of Romantics – but her compositions are less known to the wider public. These three lovely works, although miniatures, belie her own words: “I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose – there has never yet been one able to do it.” She was a remarkable lady who juggled a concert career with bringing up eight children – four of whom died before she did – and caring for a husband who succumbed to a mental breakdown. One is left to wonder what she might have achieved as a major composer.
This album, superbly recorded by the Chandos team, is not to be missed.