music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
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Seen & Heard
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Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890–1959)
for two violins and piano (1930) [12:41]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–1975) (arr.
Three Violin Duets (1933/1955) [7:02]
Darius MILHAUD (1892–1974)
for two violins and piano, op.15 (1914) [16:00]
Isang YUN (1917–1995)
for two violins (1983) [13:44]
Pezzo Fantastioso (1988)
Jennifer Chun (violins), Nelson Padgett (piano)
rec. June 1998, The American Academy of Arts and Letters,
New York City, New York DDD
MUNDI HMU907444 [59:45]
is a real mixed bag of a recital, with music ranging from
neo-classicism to modernism and free tonality, but in a strange
way it works despite the disparity of musical language and
Martinů’s Sonatina is
a typical piece of neo-classicism in his usual manner. The
four movements are short and pithy with some lovely interplay
between the two violins. Shostakovich’s Duets derive
from different sources, written over a twenty year period.
They are delightful and pleasing miniatures.
Milhaud’s Sonata is
the biggest work here. It’s an early composition, pre-dating
his two most well known works – La Création du Monde and Le Boeuf sur le
Toit – and although it is light in texture, it’s slightly
more serious than either of the other pieces named, but,
like the very best of Milhaud, it is full of charm. The first
movement is amiable with lots of cross-talk from the violins.
Somewhat surprisingly, the piano keeps playing a phrase which
sounds uncannily like the opening moments of Ravel’s 1927 Violin Sonata.
The slow movement has the violins muted and is a very striking
nocturne. The finale is spirited but has an occasional tinge
of sadness. Overall, it’s a lovely piece, without any padding,
which makes its effect with the simplest of means.
Yun’s Sonatina is an austere work. The music is tonally
ambiguous, predominantly slow and quiet, and the violins
seem to meander in a meaningless way, going nowhere. Then,
as the music grows more passionate, a louder, and slightly
faster, middle section breaks the atmosphere of repose – the
violins, according to the notes, “…suggest nightingales on
ecstasy, or perhaps ecstatic nightingales.” I think the latter
is a better description if only because if the birds really
were on ecstasy they wouldn’t sing as ardently, or coherently,
as this. The music of the opening returns, but we hear it
with different ears, because of the middle section, and it
feels to be more beautiful, more atmospheric. It’s a difficult
listen but with repeated hearings the work slowly gives away
its secrets and you’ll find it quite attractive. It easily
fits in the scheme of the recital.
Fantastioso is an overtly virtuosic work. The music
takes the idea, not the music, of the middle of the Sonatina and
embellishes it with fioritura. The violins seem to sing
of spiritual and rapturous love and as the piece progresses
the music grows in intensity and richness before calming
down and coming to a gentle repose. This is much simpler
than the Sonatina but no less rewarding.
Angela and Jennifer Chun studied at the Juilliard School
in New York and later in Switzerland with Nathan Milstein.
Since making their debut at Carnegie Hall they have built
an international reputation with an interest in contemporary
music, collaborating with several composers. They play a
1734 Domenico Montagnana and the 1662 Amati known as The
Goding and their sound is pure and refined. In the first
three works they are ably accompanied by Nelson Padgett.
recording is bright and clear, the notes good, if, with some
unusual uses of English, and the booklet has full page photographs
of the composers - always a good idea in my opinion. The
disk is well presented in a gatefold sleeve.
hope that the inclusion of the pieces by Isang Yun won’t
scare anyone off who is interested in the other works because
there is much to enjoy here.
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