1942: Prokofiev – Copland – Poulenc

Since winning First Prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York, New Zealand-born violinist Benjamin Baker has established a strong presence across the globe, with acclaimed solo, chamber and concerto appearances on five continents. His Delphian recording debut sees him joined by regular duo partner Daniel Lebhardt in a programme of three powerful works which were all begun in 1942.
Each marked in its own way by a world at war, these three sonatas – by Aaron Copland, Francis Poulenc and Sergei Prokofiev – show three of the twentieth century’s most individual and admired composers engaging themes of private loss, political uncertainty and music’s enduring ability both to reflect and to transcend circumstance.

"A performance by Benjamin Baker and Daniel Lebhardt that captures so effectively the passion and pain of Poulenc's inspiration ... an excellent recording"



"The world was in turmoil in 1942, with much of Europe under Nazi occupation. All three works on this remarkable album were begun that year, and two of them are products of this dark time ... New Zealand-born violinist Benjamin Baker and Hungarian pianist Daniel Lebhardt are superb partners with a rare passion and energy"

"The New Zealand-born violinist is joined by his regular recital-partner for his Delphian debut, which features three works whose gestation began in the same turbulent year: Copland’s Violin Sonata (described by Virgil Thomson as ‘one of its author's most satisfying pieces’ after its 1944 premiere), Poulenc’s sonata in memory of Federico García Lorca, and Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 2, reworked from his Flute Sonata at the behest of David Oistrakh"

"We expect oracles from composers in ominous times. Here are three composers who preferred to bury their heads in scores. It is the interpreters, Benjamin Baker and Daniel Lebhardt, who bring out the terrors and anxieties that rumble beneath these works. Both are brilliant artists of independent mind and prodigious technique, one a New Zealander, the other Hungarian. Their Edinburgh recital was recorded last summer in the thick of the Covid pandemic. Different time, different crisis. This is a wonderfully timely album"


NORMAN LEBRECHT - La Scena Musicale

★ ★ ★ ★

"Obaj artyści prezentują niezwykłą technikę i frapującą muzyczną inteligencję. W konsekwencji sonaty Coplanda, Pulenca i Prokofiewa zyskały aktualny wymiar, pasujący jak ulał do innego kryzysu, w którym znalazła się ludzkość"

"Both artists present an extraordinary technique and fascinating musical intelligence. As a consequence, the Copland, Poulenc and Prokofiev sonatas gain another dimension, fitting like a glove for another crisis in which humanity finds itself"

W Kulturalny sposob

"Taken on its own terms, this is an extremely good programme: three significant sonatas, all of them born in 1942 and all reflecting, in one way or another, a world at war ... a useful, stimulating and well-recorded means of learning some fine chamber music from a difficult period"

"Baker’s playing is agile and unforced, giving rein to the music’s lean lyricism ... Poulenc’s sonata, written at the behest of the violinist Ginette Neveu, who gave the premiere, is expansive and dramatic in comparison. The central Intermezzo is characterised by extended double-stopping, perfectly placed by Baker. In the presto finale, Lebhardt gracefully lets rip, while the violinist skitters fearlessly in rapid trills, runs and pizzicato ... This young duo’s first recording on Delphian deserves every success"

Release Date: 23 April 2021
Catalogue No: DCD34247
Recorded on 11-13 August 2020 in The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh 
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter 
24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse 
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter 
Piano: Steinway model D, 2015, serial no 599478 
Piano technician: Norman Motion 

Watch ...


Poulenc: Sonata for Violin & Piano - iii. Presto Tragico

Filmed in Edinburgh's Queen's Hall during recording sessions

Part of the YCAT series on Delphian

This partnership between Delphian Records and YCAT offers rare new recording opportunities for the most promising young artists, combining YCAT’s mission of developing careers at a world-class level with Delphian’s twenty-year-long reputation for bold, considered programming. The partnership will give the artists a unique experience – from initial concept planning, recording and editing to the final packaged and digital product – and will enhance Delphian and YCAT’s commitments to nurturing artists’ artistic development and long-term careers.

Read more about the partnership and discover the range of releases here

You may also like ...