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Laurent Korcia: Songes (Dreams)
Nicolas BACRI (b. 1961) Une Prière op 52 for violin and orchestra To the memory of Jewish martyrs of all time
Ernest BLOCH (1880 – 1959) Nigun (from Baal Shem) for violin and piano
Leos JANÁČEK (1854 – 1928) Ballade (from Sonata for violin and piano)
Béla BARTÓK (1881 – 1945) Romanian dances - Andante – Molto moderato
Eugène YSAYE (1858 – 1931) Rêve d’enfant op. 14
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924) Andante (from Sonata for violin and piano No. 1 op. 13)
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855 – 1899) Nos Souvenirs (from Four melodies op. 8)
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857 – 1944) Sérénade espagnole (arr F. Kreisler)
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918) Beau soir (arr. J. Heifetz)
Laurent Korcia (violin), West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Semyon Bychkov (Bacri); Georges Pludermacher (piano)(Bloch, Janáček, Bartók); Jean-Marc Luisada (piano)(Ysaye, Fauré, Chausson, Chaminade, Debussy)
Recorded in Cologne in January 2002 (Bacri), at Théâtre Impérial, Compiègne in June 1999 (Bloch, Janáček, Bartók) and at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Aldeburgh on 19th – 23rd April 2001.
BMG FRANCE 82876 663272 [57:06]

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Paris-born Laurent Korcia, who recently turned forty, has been around for some time, making records for several companies, among them, in recent times, BMG/RCA.

The present disc is a compilation of excerpts from two recital discs coupled with fellow Frenchman, Nicolas Bacri’s Une Prière (A Prayer) for violin and orchestra. This was written 1995–97 and premiered in 1999 at Arles by viola player Gérard Caussé. It exists also in a version for violoncello and – as here – violin. Korcia recorded it in 2002 and it was released on a CD single, reviewed as recently as last autumn by Rob Barnett. I advise readers to look it up, since Rob gives a very fine analysis of the work. One important reference is to Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, and the basic atmosphere is similar, but while Gorecki’s composition is more or less cast in one long arch, Bacri’s, although running continuously for circa 22 minutes, is divided in eight clearly discernible contrasting sections. The tragedy of the Jewish people and the sorrow is just as tangible in both compositions, but Bacri has more dramatic outbursts, is more defiant, Gorecki is more resigned. Towards the end of Une Prière, in the first scherzo (tr. 5) the timpani is very aggressive, before, after a long pause, the lower strings introduce the trio (tr. 6) where the soloist weaves a beautiful melody, starting in the lowest register until towards the end of the movement he gradually rises like a Phoenix out of the ashes. Then there is a last outburst of violence in the very short second scherzo (tr 7) before we reach the concluding Andante sognando, which brings a kind of reconciliation. An utterly moving work it is and it became even more significant since I listened to it on the very day when the monument to the victims of the Holocaust was inaugurated in Berlin. I visited Berlin a little over a year ago and saw the monument when it was still under construction. Bacri’s composition should be heard by everyone with the slightest interest in contemporary music – with a message. The performance is first class and Korcia’s Stradivarius of 1719 soars admirably above and around the orchestral texture. Just for the record it should be noted that on February 2 another composition with Jewish motifs by Nicolas Bacri, his Sonata No. 3 for solo violin op 76 (Kol Nidrei) was premiered in Le Havre by Laurent Korcia.

The title of the disc is Songes (Dreams) and that implies slow, soft music for meditation and relaxation. Well, that is not even half true. There is very little of popular or sentimental fiddling here, but since there are no full-scale compositions, apart from the Bacri Prayer, it is something of a mixed bag, anyway. The Bloch Nigun, another piece with Hebrew background, is deeply atmospheric and sits well as a counterpart to Bacri. Janáček’s Ballade is of course wonderful music and since the playing time for the disc would allow it, I would have liked the whole sonata to be included. The two Bartók pieces whizz by in no time at all, but Korcia demonstrates his ability to play flageolets very convincingly. The French pieces are all very fine and none is over-represented on disc, so they are welcome inclusions. Ysaye’s Rêve d’enfant is dreamy and has a beautiful melody and in Fauré’s Andante the ebb and flow of the music is well caught. Chaminade hasn’t had much of a reputation until quite recently, being labelled "a second-rate female composer of salon music", but this Spanish serenade is very attractive in Kreisler’s arrangement. I have a recording of it by Nils-Erik Sparf on an all-Chaminade disc from DG with von Otter, Bengt Forsberg et al and Korcia at a slightly slower tempo is just as apt.

Laurent Korcia is an excellent violinist, his two pianists never let him down, sound quality is top-drawer. The disc comes in one of these four-fold cardboard boxes with texts only in French, but since it is mostly promotional you can live without it. Read Rob’s review and buy the disc. You won’t regret it.

Göran Forsling

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

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