Gerard SCHURMANN (b.1924)
Duo for Violin and Piano (1982-83) [25:19]
Leotaurus; theme and variations for piano (1974-75) [15:02]
Autumn Leaves for violin and piano (2007) [18:25]
Contrasts for piano (1972-73) [15:03]
Alyssa Park (violin)
Mikhail Korzhev (piano)
rec. December 2010, Vaughncille Joseph Meng Concert Hall, Fullerton, California
Gerard Schurmann’s 1982-83 Duo for violin and piano is written in five movements and was his first commission after he’d moved to America. Opening with a powerful Intrada it embraces a vital, charged yet frolicsome Ditirambo, one that slows for a contrasting B section, and a tranquil and then terse drama in the central Notturno. There are scurrying, folk-like exchanges between the instruments in the Burlesca, which ends with a satisfying ‘clunk’. But the work itself ends with an introspective Largo, full of feeling. Finely distributed for the instruments, this cohesive and wide ranging work should appeal to enterprising duos who want music of colour, timbre, strong themes and conviction.
Leotaurus for piano was written about a decade earlier and taken from a theme from the composer’s Piano Concerto, which was written shortly before. Cleverly, the title encodes the star signs of Tamás Vásáry, for whom the piece was written, and his wife Ildiko; the Lion and the Bull. Schurmann imagines the two animals in the ring, enacting variations according to their different natures. Thus, in a quarter of an hour this theme and variations races through some ingenious patterns and incidents with plenty of colour, and plenty of aural excitement. Some driving ostinati excite, so too the playfully terse moments embedded in them; the final allegro is the embodiment of pulsing power. In John Ogdon’s note for this piece, reprinted here, he calls it ‘bull-like’.
Autumn Leaves for violin and piano is suitably reflective, composed in 2007 and the most recently written of the quartet of compositions. There’s sweet candour in the Arietta, a strikingly beautiful movement, and a lied-like richness to the B section of the Allegro third movement. This is a richly satisfying work, and it would grace any recital. Contrasts for solo piano was commissioned by Ogdon and first performed by him in 1973. The four movements are interlinked and explore weather phenomena in a clever, exciting way. There’s plenty of gauze, dazzle and more especially swirl and thunder.
Outstanding performances are allied to finely judged recordings, and a predictably first class booklet note. The results are hugely satisfying.
Jonathan Woolf
Outstanding performances, finely judged recordings, hugely satisfying.