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
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
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
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
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
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.