Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod 

 

 

Michael Bochmann & David Watkins David Watkins "effortless mastery ... totally spellbinding"
Michael Bochmann "exquisitely lyrical tone"

"Exceptional and deeply moving" When two distinguished musicians get together, the results are always powerful and fascinating.

The music played ranges from classical to folk song arrangements, with Massenet's lovely "Meditation from Thais" being a great favourite.

Michael and David talk about the music in a relaxed and engaging way, prompting one critic to headline his review with: "Just how it should be done"

The music playing is Bach/Gounod Ave Maria from the CD The Triumph of Time, Part II released summer 2008

Sample Programme
 
Vivaldi Sonata in C for violin & harp
Watkins Petite Suite for harp
J.S.Bach Sarabande & Gigue in D Minor
Spohr Sonata in C Minor
Saint-Saëns Fantasie for Violin & harp op. 124
Massenet Meditation from Thaïs
Paganini Two Caprices
Sarasate Zigeunerweisen
 

In Mozart's time, domestic music-making became so fashionable that publishers demanded music that could easily be played by members of the same family.

Early keyboard and harp sonatas often had violin parts that were of secondary importance. Accompaniment or even "Ad libitum" would be found in the title page. Mozart's second set of violin sonatas (written in the Netherlands) had accompaniments that could be played on the keyboard or harp; (the Paris edition) and in the late violin sonatas, show a progression towards independent violin parts where the harp or keyboard has an accompanying rôle.

Louis Spohr, great violinist and composer, wrote many works for the two instruments having been inspired by the virtuoso performances of his wife, Dorette. These important Duos and Concertantes became the models for subsequent composers. Even Saint-Saëns wrote a powerful duo that explores the techniques and sonorities of both instruments. With the violinist's links to much folk music and the harpist's accompanying rôle, there is a large repertoire for both instruments and in the "popular" classical field, nothing is more moving than the violin and harp in Massenet's Meditation from Thaïs.

Photograph of Michael BochmannBrought up in Turkey and England, Michael Bochmann has been well known in British musical life for several decades. He has performed in the USA, all over Europe and in India. As a student he was a prize-winner in the 1972 Carl Flesch International Violin Competition and the Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris. He studied with Frederick Grinke in London and also received lessons from Sándor Végh and Henryk Szeryng. At 19, he made his first solo broadcasts for the BBC.

He formed the Bochmann Quartet in 1977 with which he made over 50 broadcasts and TV appearances within in the first 10 years. The quartet has recorded on Pickwick, Redcliffe, Disc D'Or, Metier, Naxos and Chandos labels. In February 1990 he partnered Sir Yehudi Menuhin in the Bach Double Violin Concerto on a 16-concert tour of the USA and Canada.

He frequently directs the English String Orchestra and has performed as soloist with them many times in the UK and abroad. His recording with ESO of The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams has been broadcast many times on Radio 3 and Classic FM.

He visits Germany regularly to perform and teach and for the last ten years has directed the Klanglust Kammerorchester in Fürth.

 

In the present period he is also performing and teaching in Mexico, South Africa, Spain, France, Portugal, Italy and Serbia.

From recent reviews:

Elegance, energy and so much talent ... this enchanting duo ... communicated their obvious delight to the packed audience ... just how it should be done ... perfect empathy and ensemble ... great variety ... exceptional and deeply moving.

"endless flow of golden melody" - Telegraph


Just how it should be done
Michael Bochmann (violin) & David Watkins (harp)
City Museum & Art Gallery


There are recitals which overrun, those which are dull and uninteresting, and ones even where the performance leaves something to be desired. This enchanting duo showed, in the space of one hour exactly, just how the job should be done.

First and foremost, of course, Michael Bochmann and David Watkins are highly accomplished players, in perfect empathy and ensemble. Secondly they had carefully planned a programme of great variety, which had just about something for everyone, and which didn’t need cropping on the day. Most importantly, however, both players clearly savoured every note of their programme, whether a Vivaldi Sonata, an old chestnut like Bach’s Air on the G string, or one of David’s highly-entertaining folk song arrangements, and communicated their obvious delight to the packed audience. Spoken introductions were always anecdotal, and to the point, and were just the right length to keep the momentum going.

In a programme of some fourteen items, it would be hard to pick a single highlight. There was the exotic Peruvian soundscape in Andres Sas’s ‘Siembra’, the effective use of violin harmonics in ‘The Foggy, Foggy Dew’, the rich harp sonorities of Zabel’s ‘Sad Marguerite at the Spinning Wheel’, or the glorious violin tone in Massenet’s ‘Meditation from Thais’. Perhaps it was just that this recital’s unmitigated success was simply down to the sum of its two, so unassuming performers.


PHILIP R BUTTALL
17/11/05 (Evening Herald November 18 2005)

David Watkins

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