Henley Life October 2018 - page 12

INTERVIEW
From the Frick Collection in New York, to the
Kenton Theatre – such is the life of virtuoso
violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen and her duo
partner — the pianist and composer Huw
Watkins. Their special evening in Henley is
organised as the debut event for S&J Events
(Sarah Miller and Julia Carey) and promises to
deliver top-flight classical music.
Prior to his death in 2012 aged 94, Waley-
Cohen’s former teacher Ruggiero Ricci called
her: “the most exceptionally gifted young
violinist I have ever encountered.”
More recently, BBC Music magazine has
praised her “laser bright tone and effortless
agility”, while the German newspaper Die Welt
noted that “her playing is not about ego, but
about insight.”
Many leading musicians start relatively
young, but Waley-Cohen was just two years
old when she saw a Proms concert on TV and
became transfixed by the violin solo, which to
her produced a sound “almost like a human
voice.” She started violin lessons at three years
old.
Tamsin was no stranger to the arts and
performing as her mother is the sculptor Josie
Spencer, and her father is the theatre producer
Stephen Waley-Cohen. Her sister, Freya, is a
celebrated current composer, and the pair
often work together. Freya is currently writing
a piece for Tamsin’s established string quartet,
the Albion Quartet, which will premier next
Summer, and then play at the Wigmore Hall.
The sisters were sponsored to produce an
ambitious project, combining music and
architecture, for a special exhibition at Snape
Maltings in Suffolk which consists of Freya’s
music played by Tamsin to the movement of
70 revolving doors.
Permutations
comes to
London soon, and then moves to the Royal
Institute for British Architects in Liverpool.
Tamsin studied at the Royal College of
Music, where she developed her interest in
contemporary music by living composers,
which included her current duo partner,
HuwWatkins.
“It was about 16 or 17 years ago now, when
he had written some beautiful violin and
piano pieces for a BBC competition. My
teacher at the time recommended Huw and
that’s how we originally met. I played his
pieces and we started playing together a few
years later.”
Tamsin went on to premiere one of Watkins’s
concertinos and the pair has also recorded
together for Champs Hill and Signum
Records.
Last year they toured Europe together, and
performed one of the works that they will be
bringing to the Kenton Theatre in November.
“Oliver Knussen’s
Reflection for Violin and
Piano
is a really special piece for us because
he wrote it for us for our European tour last
year —which was the first piece he’d written
in I think about eight years,” said Tamsin of
the internationally acclaimed British
composer, who died this Summer aged 66.
The Henley audience will also be treated to
Mozart’s
Violin Sonata in E minor,
Beethoven’s
Violin Sonata No.10 in G major
and Prokofiev’s
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor.
These will be played on the extraordinary
instrument that is vital to Tamsin’s craft. Her
1721 Stradivarius is on a long-term loan from
a trust, having been used by talented
Hungarian violinst Lorand Fenyves for 50
years.
“The thing that is so special about these
instruments, apart from the history, is that
they offer endless possibilities within their
sounds and, as sound is our medium, the
more colours and expression an instrument
can give us the more we can hopefully say
through the music.”
A
classical
treat
“So we really want to
bring the piece to as
many audiences as we
can. It’s quite virtuosic,
quite sensuous, in Oli’s
inimitable style — his
pieces are so finely
crafted — they’re the
most perfect joy you
can imagine.”
HENLEY
life
| OCTOBER 2018
12
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