In November 2015, Dawn and Twilight – the first and last sonatas of Cyril Scott – world premiere recordings – was released by Affetto Records.
When violinist Andrew Kirkman from Birmingham University suggested we do the first version of Cyril Scott’s first violin sonata it was a daunting project. The first time we did it (at the University of Birmingham when I was in the midst of writing my Dett dissertation) I had to make a cut in the enormous piano cadenza that closes the piece. Listening to the second movement still puts me in an ecstatic trance. It was a ground-breaking piece when it was written in 1908 with all of the constantly shifting meters and harmonies.
I’m usually drawn to music that uses the sound of the piano in a unique way. I love the colors, the juxtaposition of light and shadow, and the way Scott sequences these. The sound of bells and their multi-hued upper harmonics seem to be a constant presence. The mystical sound of bells crosses so many cultures. Scott had many occult interests and surely these sounds had a particular meaning for him.
It amazed me that Andrew and I were the first ones to perform the 4th sonata, written in 1956. We had the manuscript transcribed by one of the grad students at Birmingham. It’s so different, compressed, introspective and aphoristic. The two sonatas make a wonderful pair and I’m really proud of this CD and the work we did to make it.