Tasmin Little - a personal retrospective
Tasmin Little’s discography currently stands at 41 recordings, with another four in the pipeline before she packs her violin away for good; shortly before she collected her BBC Music Personality of the Year Award last night, I asked her to talk me through five albums which hold a special place in her affections…
Tasmin Little (violin), BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis
I’ve got to start with the second recording that I made of The Lark Ascending, coupled with the Moeran concerto and works by Delius, Elgar and Holst. The Lark is a very special piece for me, and I first recorded it with Andrew Davis when I was very inexperienced; it was only the third recording I’d ever made, and it actually came out very well, but that was me in 1990! I re-recorded it three years ago, again with Andrew – so exactly the same partnership, but you couldn’t have a more different interpretation! It was everything that I really wanted it to be, and the other works on that disc are fantastic: there’s a beautiful piece by Holst, the Song of the Night, which is very rarely done, and the Moeran concerto is absolutely lovely. Andrew is always a gem to work with: he and I have done a lot of recordings together, but this was a really special one. If someone was to ask ‘What was Tasmin about?’, I would say you could sum me up with this recording.
Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC
Martin Roscoe (piano), Tasmin Little (violin)
The boxed set of the Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin (not ‘violin and piano’, of course!) which I recorded with Martin Roscoe a couple of years ago has got to go on my little list as well. Those sonatas are like a mountain that every violinist needs to climb, and because a lot of people consider me as a very opulent, romantic player I wanted to make sure that my Beethoven was a very different style to the Tasmin that people know. I was so thrilled with the way the whole project turned out – with the sound that Chandos got, and with the collaboration with Martin. We’d been playing these pieces together for a long time, and all the reviewers commented on the equality of the partnership and also the fantastically characterful playing, which was exactly what I wanted to achieve in these sonatas.
Available Formats: 3 CDs, MP3, FLAC
Tasmin Little (violin), Piers Lane (piano)
The pianist with whom I’ve collaborated for the longest time is Piers Lane, and a year ago he and I released the three Brahms sonatas, which of course are the other pinnacle of violin-and-piano/piano-and-violin repertoire. The first sonata on the disc is the G major, which has such an elusive opening, and it’s very difficult to get it just right – it’s got to have such subtlety as well as that amazing long line and sense of structure. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but when I listen to that it really does take my breath away!
Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC
Tasmin Little (violin), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis
I’ve also got to pick the Elgar concerto, which won the Critics Award at the Classic Brits in 2011; the whole way that recording came about was completely serendipitous, and we released it in the centenary year of the work’s premiere. The reviews were out of this world – I couldn’t have written them better if I’d tried! It was also the springboard for what I described to the lovely Ralph Couzens [managing director of Chandos] as ‘a marriage later in life’: my exclusive contract with Chandos began after the Elgar recording, and we’ve gone on to make what will be 24 recordings in total, in a space of just nine years. We’ve really gone for it!
Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC
Tasmin Little (violin), Martin Roscoe (piano), Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Richard Studt
For my final choice, I’m struggling to decide between Arvo Pärt and Delius…but I’m going to go for Pärt, because we made that recording literally just before the crest of his wave. This was in 1993 when he wasn’t the great superstar that he is nowadays, so we slightly went out on a limb in recording this music that we weren’t sure anyone was going to buy! But it turned into a No. 1 bestseller, especially in Scandinavia – it was originally issued on EMI’s mid-price Eminence label, and it was such a success that they rapidly put it on the full-price Classics! His music is amazing, and it was also a very important recording for me personally, because it really cemented my association with unusual repertoire.
Available Formats: MP3, FLAC