of works for solo violin opens with Berio’s Sequenza VIII.
According to Diego Tosi’s words, the entire programme may be
experienced as a long “Sequenza”, in which various French composers
as well as a Catalan emulate Berio’s violin study. Each of them
approaches the problem with his/her own feeling and technique,
so that the whole is remarkably varied. Berio’s Sequenza
VIII is well-known by now through several recordings,
some of them fairly recent. Berio started where Bartók left
off. In turn, Bartók’s masterly Sonata for Solo Violin
was the heir to Bach’s Partitas and Ysaÿe’s sonatas. One also
thinks of Jolivet’s Suite Rhapsodique as an important
contemporary work for solo violin. As mentioned in the heading,
this recorded performance of Edith Canat de Chizy’s Irisations
was originally released as part of Aeon AECD 0210 reviewed here
some time ago. I will thus not repeat my earlier comments about
this very fine work. Suffice it to say that Edith Canat de Chizy
was trained as a violinist and knows how to write for violin
- and strings in general - while never forgetting the poetic
character with which each of her works is deeply imbued.
Claude Ballif may
be a somewhat lesser-known composer, although some of his works
were available in commercial recordings. He was a deeply independent
mind whose music, which he called “metatonality”, placed him
in isolation with the musical environment of the time. His music
is often rather austere, even in some of his large-scale works
such as the choral symphony Le Livre du Serviteur Op.59
(1983/7). He has composed a series of pieces for solo instruments
sharing the collective title of Solfeggietto, of which
the third heard here was completed in 1963.
Xenakis’s short work Mikka ‘S’ stands in total
contrast to the other pieces here, in that it does not set out
to exploit the violin’s technical possibilities. Xenakis rather
relies on glissando and double-stopping, which of course does
not make the music easier to play! I found this fairly impressive
in spite of its brevity.
Although this is
not overtly mentioned in the insert notes, I suppose that Daniel
Tosi is related to Diego Tosi - his father? his elder brother?
His Flammes synthétiques is a superb display of
modern playing techniques; but, again, the music is really very
fine and quite attractive.
Guinjoán is a much better-known name although I must confess
that I had never heard a note of his music before. His Tensio
is in the same mould as most other works here, in that
it exploits the full range of the instrument to telling effect,
but again with a strong expressive aim.
Anthèmes completed in 1991, is surprisingly attractive.
I nearly said straightforward, if such an epithet was not a
bit incongruous when dealing with Boulez’s strictly structured,
neatly written-out music.
The music in these
works is fiendishly difficult, although technical complexity is
never present for its own sake, but with a view to some poetic
vision. Tosi’s playing is simply stunning from first to last,
whereas his musicality is never at fault. The whole programme
may be too much for some tastes to take in a single hearing, and
I would suggest then to proceed step by step, work by work. The
result is well worth the effort.