I like discs like this.
They have a programmatic security and
intelligence to them. They survey time
and place and do so imaginatively. This
one also shouts a name - to me at least;
Louis Kaufman. This is just the kind
of thing that luscious tonalist would
have given us, a bewitching recital
of Americana. In fact he did leave us
with one inscription to duplicate the
Gasparo collection - Quincy Porterís
1929 Second Sonata where he was accompanied
by Artur Balsam; you can find it on
Music & Arts CD 638.
Unfettered by such
considerations however the Pitchon-Bass
duo steps up. The Porter sonata is a
fine one, with its share of jazz era
moments in the second movement and highly
superior canonic writing in the first.
Its lyric profile means that a rich
toned player can extract the maximum
in emotive contrasts and the pianist
can also act as an infectious partner
in this respect. This is a good performance.
The contours sound right, the duo is
finely synchronized and their instincts
are just. I liked Bassís jazzy take
at 2.30 in the Andante. What I missed,
being critical, is the sense of narrative
commitment that makes the Kaufman-Balsam
so heady an experience. The impetus
is rather lost in the newcomerís performance,
especially in the slow movement. The
finale too is not nearly so richly characterised
as in the older performance; itís touch
placid and at a slower tempo. Porterís
Four Pieces are unpretentious genre
pieces but they show how well he knew
the instrument Ė he was a fine violinist.
Pistonís Sonata dates
from a decade later, on the cusp of
World War. Itís a far more austere work
as one might imagine from the temperaments
of the respective composers. But Pistonís
lyric sensibility shines through without
impediment in this performance, its
more frankly dissonant moments discerningly
realised as well. The slow movementís
melancholy-tinged direction could do
with more tonal variety than we find
here, though the finaleís fugal section
has plenty of vigour. There are also
moments when the violin seems rather
Amy Beachís New England
bears similarity with the genre warmth
of Porterís much later Four Pieces.
Hers too are steeped in violin lore
and date from 1898. Le Captive
is for the G-string, a lyric parlour
effusion, whilst its companions breathe
much the same air Ė unobtrusive and
pleasurable and not at all pretentious.
An enjoyable recital
then from two responsive musicians.
Greater tonal variety and tensile strength
would have brought greater results but
perhaps that restraint is a suitably
New England quality.