The young British violinist Tasmin Little made a splash with The Naked Violin, an album she offered as a free download in order to entice new fans to classical violin music. The violin-and-piano recital Partners in Time (the title loosely refers to the ongoing partnership of the violin and piano through several centuries of concert music) is intended as a follow-up to the earlier album, offering a collection of popular violin-and-piano works from the Baroque era (Bach's Violin Sonata in E major, BWV 1016) to the 20th century (Bartók's Six Romanian Folk Dances). Her website offers brief introductory commentary on the pieces, urging listeners to try out the different styles and pointing out that if one is not to an individual hearer's liking, others may well be. This is all to the good, but a couple of things stand out here: Little's approach is 1) serious and 2) quite traditional. She mostly avoids the single-movement "encore" pieces, heavy on tunes, that have often been used to introduce the classical repertory in the past; Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro (in a curiously pale reading) and Tchaikovsky's "Mélodie," from the Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42, are present but simply as frames for three full-length sonatas (by Bach, Mozart, and Grieg) and the Bartók. Little wants to present things at an introductory level but also signals her readiness to demand some closer listening. This said, the program couldn't be called adventurous, either; this is a recital that could have been programmed in a medium-sized British or American city 50 or 75 years ago, especially with the very Romantic Bach reading. Other young performers have tried to draw new audiences with modern works that experiment with texture or with the intersection between the classical and vernacular worlds, but Little is not going there. Her approach is actually one that hasn't been tried much in recent decades, and she's a sharp player with a personable image. The Bartók is quite well suited to her precise style. So, if you're looking for a basic disc of violin-and-piano music that goes beyond the greatest-hits approach but is firmly rooted in traditional concert life, give Little a try.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Sonata in E major, BWV 1016|
|Sonata No. 17 in C major, K 296|
|Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op. 13|
|Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42|
|Six Romanian Folk Dances|