Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
La Gitana [3:02]; Gypsy Caprice [5:16]; Berceuse romantique [4:02]; Syncopation
[1:46] John CORIGLIANO (b.1938)
The Red Violin Caprices for Solo Violin [9:43] Paul SCHOENFIELD (b.1947)
Four Souvenirs for Violin and Piano [15:59] Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881)
Souvenir d'Amérique - Variations on "Yankee Doodle", Op.17 [4:54] George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Selections from "Porgy and Bess" (transcribed by Jascha Heifetz) [17:05] TRADITIONAL Cape Breton Island Fiddling: Hector the Hero [4:06]; Hey, Johnny Cope!;
Tullochgorum; Jean's Reel [5:57]
Caroline Goulding (violin), Christopher
O'Riley (piano, except Cape Breton Island Fiddling), Janine Randall (piano, Cape
Breton Island Fiddling)
rec. 2009 TELARC CD80744 [67:31]
This disc was a wonderful surprise for me. Caroline Goulding
is a first-class violin virtuoso, with beautiful tone and assured
technique. But we've heard those
before. What makes her playing rare is that she has this elusive, indefinable
yet unmistakable personality, which is felt throughout the album. This
is a collection of miniatures, yet it is not another one of those I-can-do-all-Heifetz-encores discs.
The program is an interesting mix of the well-known, little known and totally
unknown, and is wisely planned so that it never becomes boring. It has real freshness
and can be listened to in single breath, only gaining in pleasure with every
I want to beg pardon of the fine pianists Christopher O'Riley and Janine Randall.
They do their best and certainly contribute a lot to the excellence of the result,
but this is Caroline's disc. Not least, that's because half of the tracks were
composed or arranged by great violinists - Vieuxtemps, Kreisler, Heifetz - for
their own lustre. In their pieces, the piano part is rarely more than a bass-and-rhythm
The disc opens with Kreisler's gypsy rhapsodies, presented with power and finesse.
The violin's voice is a good, dark-honey-hued mezzo-soprano, and could be a great
Carmen, were it human. Berceuse romantique is full of soft light, waving
veils and sincerity. Syncopation is a standard ragtime: you've heard one,
you've heard them all.
John Corigliano's unaccompanied Red Violin Caprices are the most serious
music in the album. Even without knowing the underlying story, this is a fascinating
set of variations. Earth and Heaven, grief and will, darkness and light tell
their stories in less than ten minutes. I am grateful to the composer and the
violinist for this truly wonderful experience. Goulding's playing is heartfelt
Pause before you plunge into Paul Schoenfield's Four Souvenirs. Like his
popular Café Music, this is music for entertainment, but with a
lot of heart and thought. Without pretending to open up new horizons, it is elegant
and sincere. And again, Caroline Goulding seems at home within the idiomatic
worlds of the four parts of the suite: Samba (brilliant, with more than
a trace of foxtrot), Tango (very sensual), Tin Pan Alley (softly
nostalgic) and Square Dance (quite rambunctious).
Henri Vieuxtemps apparently planned to bring down the houses with the "Yankee
Doodle" Variations during his American tours. All starts from afar,
and the listener is completely unprepared for what comes after. The variations
don't dig deep musically - probably the tune is too plain for it, or Vieuxtemps
had other goals. Still, this is a dazzling piece, quite infectious.
Heifetz's "Porgy and Bess" transcriptions are probably the
best known music here. What is interesting, comparing to his superstar colleagues
Vieuxtemps and Kreisler, is that Heifetz grants a more substantial role to
piano. If not an equal partner, the piano at least has its share. So, here
one can also appraise the skilful pianism of Christopher O'Riley. You enter
in Summertime, feel the genuine grief and pain of My Man's Gone Now,
bathe in gentle love in Bess, You Is My Woman Now, have fun in It Ain't
Necessarily So, and say a lighthearted good-bye in There's A Boat.
Like pearls on a string, all parts of the suite shine. And more than once I caught
myself thinking that two violins were playing!
Finally, we hear two tracks of Cape Breton Island Fiddling. Now, speak of a different
world! Between the spacious vistas of Hector the Hero and the unstoppable
swirl of Jean's Reel, I, to my surprise, found in my soul some improbable
Celtic yearning. The dance medley has irresistible drive. And Caroline does it
right: there are no cheap effects here, but a showcase of genuine fiddling prowess.
This may be an introductory album of a rising star, but not even the greatest
violinists could be less than proud of such a disc. I did not notice a single
weak note or intonation. The technique is stunning. The mood of each piece is
perfectly caught. And the music is just interesting. One common problem of such
discs is a surfeit of sugar: some of them are like eating wedding-cake icing
with a spoon. Not the case here! The music is sunny, cheerful, laughing, but
its sweetness is natural, not chemical. Caroline's feeling for the music is amazing.
I had much pleasure listening and re-listening to this disc.
And did I mention that Caroline is just turned seventeen? Doesn't matter, actually.
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