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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Violin Sonatina in A minor, D 385/Op. 137 no 2 (1816) [21:36]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Sonata no 3 in D minor, Op. 108 (1888) [23:22]
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Baal Shem (1923) [14:31]
Igor FROLOV (b.1937)
Concert Fantasy on themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, for violin and piano (1991) [15:28]
Lana Trotovsek (violin); Yoko Misumi (piano)
rec. 10-12 July 2012, location not specified
MERIDIAN CDE84620 [75:05] 

Violinist Lana Trotovsek made her debut with Valery Gergiev in 2012 in a performance of Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto and received a standing ovation. A recipient of numerous awards, including Slovenia’s much accredited Preseren Award, Trotovsek’s technique and tenacity is undeniable. However, it is the texture she produces with her 1750 Pietro Antonio dalla Costa violin that dazzles and ignites a Romantic overflow of spontaneous feeling in the listener.
 
Schubert’s Sonatina in A minor is somewhat Mozartian. The violin plays a subservient role to that of the piano. However, at the end of the first movement the violin elbows to the forefront and pierces with sudden caritas. The second movement is a display of the assured and commensurate musical relationship between Trotovsek and Misumi. This is ultimately tested in the later Gershwin piece. The third and fourth movements allow Trotovsek to languish in the lassitude of Romanticism and gambol amongst its frivolities.
 
The Brahms Sonata rumbles, stirs and agitates; qualities which reverberate from the duo in both frantic and dulcet fashions. Trotovsek’s energetic verve tackles Brahms’ athletic, fibrous and nervous piece with exuberance. The characteristically Brahmsian ‘poco forte’ marking is performed with deep resonance and quiet understanding. Ending with the ‘presto agitato’, the sentiments of turbulence and uncertainty are heard amid effusive overtones.
 
Inscribed ‘To the memory of my mother’, Bloch’s  Baal Shem  was written in 1923. The suite or ‘three pictures of Chassidic life’ is composed of Vidui (contrition), Nigun (prayer) and Simchas Torah (rejoicing).  Trotovsek plays the second ‘picture’ entitled Nigun with beatific qualities. Her interpretation buttresses Bloch’s belief that through song and dance a spiritual connection with the celestial can be made. For an alternative recording, do try Isaac Stern’s CD with Sony Classical entitled: ‘A Life in Music: Bloch, Hindemith, Copland: Violin Sonatas’.
 
Giving Porgy and Bess a whimsical and at times oriental voice, Trotovsek and Misumi’s refreshing interpretation revitalises this exhausted piece. Igor Frolov’s arrangement recalls Pablo de Sarasate’s gypsy Carmen Fantasy. The piano and violin interweave seamlessly and the resulting performance has an authentic panache, possible only through honest and trusting musical camaraderie.
 
Known for playing with the Greenwich Trio - with cellist Stjepan Hauser and Yoko Misumi - Trotovsek has also recorded Shostakovich (own label but try YouTube), Beethoven and Mendelssohn Piano Trios (Meridian CDE84613). This latest CD is well worth seeking out as are her earlier recordings. I look forward to her much anticipated Bach release. Samples of her music-making can be found on her website.
 
Lucy Jeffery