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Ballet for a Lonely Violinist - music for violin and piano
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-75)
Violin Sonata, Op. 134 (1968) [32.43]
Jazz Suite No. 1 for violin and piano, transcribed in 2005 by Michael Gluzman from the Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1 (1968) [08.04]
Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973)
Lonely Suite (Ballet for a Lonely Violinist) for solo violin, Op. 70 (2002) [10.34]
Violin Sonata No. 2 (September 11), Op. 63 (2001) [14.39]
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
Angela Yoffe (piano)
rec. June-July 2005, Vasteras Concert Hall, Sweden. DDD
BIS RECORDS BIS-CD-1592 [67.16]

On two previous BIS releases the Israeli husband and wife duo of Ukrainian-born Vadim Gluzman and Latvian-born Angela Yoffe recorded works by Lera Auerbach (BIS-CD-1242) and composers that originated from the former Soviet Union (BIS-CD-1392). These performances have received critical acclaim.

On this their third BIS release Gluzman and Yoffe return to the young Russian-born composer Lera Auerbach (b. 1973). On this occasion they have elected to record Auerbach’s solo violin score Lonely Suite (Ballet for a Lonely Violinist), which is dedicated to Vadim Gluzman, and the Violin Sonata No. 2. The Sonata is subtitled September 11 and was written as the New York-based Auerbach’s reaction to the terrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. Auerbach has described the link between the attack and the composition: Like the Phoenix, who dies in order to be born, this piece was born from death.
 
Auerbach’s scores are complemented by two works from her great compatriot and predecessor, Dmitri Shostakovich. The main score on this release is the Shostakovich Violin Sonata Op. 134 which carries the inscription: For the 60th birthday of David Oistrakh. Oistrakh gave the first performance in 1969 in Moscow with Sviatoslav Richter. Its New York premiere took place at Carnegie Hall in 1970 again with Oistrakh and Richter.
 
In the Viola Sonata Op. 147, the final string quartets and the Op. 134 sonata written in the years immediately preceding his death, Shostakovich revealed himself as a deeply troubled, intensely pessimistic man and artist. No doubt he had complete justification considering the extremely oppressive political circumstances of his life.

In the Violin Sonata Shostakovich commences the opening andante with an extended twelve-tone row for the piano. He then builds a long music-drama upon variations of the opening theme. Some of these episodes are brusque and violent, some melodic and some delicate. The movement reaches a quiet close on an eerie tremolo ponticello. Unmistakably characteristic of Shostakovich in this movement is the prevailing lightness of its texture. The central allegretto is a kind of tight-lipped scherzo and is the closest in character to the composer’s more fervent earlier persona with its driving rhythms and frequent hammered chords in both instruments. The closing largo, andante was originally described by Shostakovich as ‘a set of variations’. The movement dies away in the same way as the opening movement; a strikingly effective cyclical device. The partnership of Gluzman and Yoffe persuasively convey a sparse and austere atmosphere throughout. Their playing is intense in the andante, powerful in the allegretto with a highly emotional interpretation of the closing movement. This is a fine performance, however, I continue to be impressed with the account from Oleg Kagan and Sviatoslav Richter on Regis RRC 1128.
 
With Gluzman’s arrangement for violin and piano of Shostakovich’s Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1 the Israeli pair concentrate impressively on the unorthodox rhythmic impulse of the score. Their waltz is carefree, their polka amusing, providing a reasonably amorous tango.
 
The solo violin playing of Gluzman in Auerbach’s Lonely Suite (Ballet for a Lonely Violinist) makes a convincing case for the score. He provides a mood of loneliness and fear with a sense of fragmentation. I was impressed with Gluzman’s playing in the virtuoso passage No Escape and the underlying sense of restlessness is aptly portrayed. With the Violin Sonata No. 2 (September 11) Gluzman and Yoffe mirror the tragedy and destruction that the composer was attempting to illustrate. In the partnership’s hands Auerbach’s Sonata, a roller coaster of emotions, comes across as moving music of high quality and originality.
 
The release is well presented and the BIS engineers have provided a decent sound quality.
 
Michael Cookson
 

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