Lunchtime Recital at St Giles-in-the-Fields, London.

Diana Mathews – viola
Jonathan Beatty – piano

It was wonderful to return to this beautiful Palladian church set in the heart of London. Performing the unpublished Sonata in A flat major by Julius Röntgen, Priaulx Rainier’s Sonata and York Bowen’s Phantasy, this concert gave us the opportunity to indulge our love of early twentieth century music.

Priaulx Rainier (1903-1986) was born and spent her childhood in South Africa. She came to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 17 and remained with England as her base for most of her life, later becoming a professor at the establishment where she had been a student. Rainier’s music speaks with an idiosyncratic voice; it has a unique style. Her music echoes the desire she and her friends, the artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, had for austere textures and clarity of line. The Viola Sonata, written in 1945 demonstrates this as well as showing her love of ostinati.

[audio:|titles=Rainier Sonata 1st movement] [audio:|titles=Priaulx Rainier Sonata for Viola and piano Second Movement – Andante Tranquillo] [audio:|titles=Priaulx Rainier’s Sonata for Viola and Piano Third Movement – Presto]


Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) was born in Germany, but moved to Amsterdam in 1877, becoming a naturalized Dutch citizen in 1919 after the Great War. He was a pianist, working with masters such as Carl Flesch and Pablo Casals. One of Röntgen’s passions was to play chamber music, taking the inner voice of the viola part as did Bach and Mozart before him. His three viola sonatas (1924-5) show his talent for melody and they have many links with the music of Brahms. They do not, however, share the same dark characteristics.

York Bowen (1884-1961), the English composer and pianist, wrote several pieces for viola, including two sonatas and a concerto, inspired by the great virtuoso Lionel Tertis. Written in 1918, the Phantasy, Op. 54, gloriously Romantic in style, demonstrates Bowen’s remarkable talent for producing wonderfully rich harmonies and textures.