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Saxton’s ‘SUITE’ is ‘cogent and engagingly eclectic’ – Musical Opinion

The 2019 world premiere of Robert Saxton’s SUITE for violin and piano, performed by violinist Madeleine Mitchell and pianist Clare Hammond, has received an excellent review from Paul Conway, in the October-December 2020 edition of Musical Opinion. The piece was written for Madeleine Mitchell and is described as ‘… a series of intriguing, diverse miniatures that coalesced into a cogent and engagingly eclectic score’.

SUITE was premiered at the Three Choirs Festival, in St Catharine’s Church, Gloucester, on 28th July 2019, alongside works by Herbert Howells, Ivor Gurney, Ian Venables, James MacMillan and Grace Williams.  Paul Conway applauds Mitchell and Hammond’s performance – ‘… bravura display and interpretative flights of fancy from both musicians’ and also the choice of programme: ‘Each work in Madeleine Mitchell and Clare Hammond’s thoughtfully-planned programme cast meaningful reflections on its companions.’ Of SUITE, Conway writes: 

‘The Victorian Gothic splendour of St Catharine’s Church, Gloucester was the setting for a Three Choirs Festival recital of British music by violinist Madeleine Mitchell and pianist Clare Hammond on 28 July 2019.  The concert’s centrepiece was the premiere of Robert Saxton’s Suite for Violin and Piano (2019), written for Madeleine Mitchell.  The prefatory, fleet-footed ‘Awakening’ was succeeded by ‘Horizon’, the material spreading to ever-wider registers and the accompanying chords becoming more and more sustained.  After an increasingly dramatic and virtuosic dance, ‘Jacob and the Angel’, the haunting ‘Bells of Memory’, was slow and sonorous, the players generating an immensely reverberant soundscape that resonated in the mind.  ‘Quest’, the title of the forward-striving finale encapsulated the idea that, in Saxton’s words, ‘the end is, in fact, possibly not the close, but the beginning of something hopeful and new’.  Incorporating technical effects at the service of the musical narrative, the Suite offered a series of intriguing, diverse miniatures that coalesced into a cogent and engagingly eclectic score.  It also provided opportunities for bravura display and interpretative flights of fancy from both musicians.’