Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in D Major Op. 94a (1943) [25:53]
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in F Minor Op. 80 (1938-1946) [28:13]
Sonata for Solo Violin in D Major Op. 115 (1947) [12:57]
Benjamin Beilman (violin); Yekwon Sunwoo (piano)
rec. Saint-BenoÓt de Mirabel Church, Montreal, January 2011. DDD
ANALEKTA AN 2 8763 [65:05]
This disc marks the CD debut of the young violinist Benjamin Beilman. Trained in Chicago and at the Curtis Institute, he was winner of the first violin prize at the 2010 Concours musical International de Montreal. Here he performs all three of the Prokofiev sonatas for violin.
Prokofiev started his first violin sonata in 1938, just after Stalinís purges, but did not complete it until 1944. In spite of the long gestation period, the work is immensely powerful, moving from a moderato that can only be described as spectral to an equally serious scherzo and andante, with only some break in the seriousness in the final allegrissimo. Beilman produces a beautiful tone and has complete control over the pieceís technical demands, but misses much of the depth in the first and third movements. One hopes that he will acquire more depth with age.
The second sonata began life as a flute sonata, but has become equally well-known in its violin version. It is more light-hearted than its predecessor and mixes simplicity with the expected Prokofiev irony. Beilman is adept at balancing these different elements and turns in a more perceptive and technically impressive performance than he does in the first sonata.
The 1947 Sonata for Violin Solo was written as a teaching piece to be played by groups of violin students. Its moderato first movement is reminiscent of the composerís ballet music of this period and is followed by a set of child-like variations on a sad theme and a concluding mazurka movement. Again, Beilmanís ability to switch between different moods and tempi serves him well, avoiding the monotony that frequently afflicts performances of solo string music.
Benjamin Beilman is a performer of great verve and technical accomplishment, but not afraid of playing simply when so required. As he acquires more experience, he will be a talent to watch out for. The pianist Yekwon Sunwoo provides thoughtful and restrained support, especially in the op. 94a. Recording quality is presentable, if not exactly vivid.
William Kreindler
Vivid and technically assured performances of major Prokofiev chamber works by a young man to watch out