These absorbing and intricate works offer an endless fund of discovery to the attentive listener. And ‘discovery’ is certainly the operative word: while the First Violin Sonata has been recorded in its considerably truncated 1956 revision, the gorgeous, rhapsodic original version – at some 45”, half as long again –seems to have languished in silence for more than a century after its first performances in 1908. The Fourth Sonata, on the other hand (composed in the same year as the revision of the First), remained unperformed and in manuscript until it was made available to the present performers by the composer’s son.
The stakes of the composer when writing each of these sonatas could scarcely have been more contrasting. The outpouring of an enfant terrible fêted by such luminaries as Debussy, the earlier work oozes self-confidence and a bravura disregard for the kind of formal control that informed its later revision. By contrast the Fourth Sonata, the private musing of a man in his late seventies almost entirely ignored by the musical establishment, makes a brittle and aphoristic statement that bespeaks mature mastery and razor-sharp precision of musical thought.
Expressions, though they are, of very different aesthetics, however, the two sonatas are still audibly products of the same musical mind. Given the rising appreciation in recent years of the quality of that mind, evident from the growing number of recordings, they are striking also for their shared neglect. Made more than half a century after the composition of Sonata No. 4 and 45 years after Scott’s death, this recording can surely only add to the ever-growing number of devotees to the work of this rare musical genius.