Stle KLEIBERG (b.1958)
Aske (Ashes) for solo violin (2010) [4.44]
Peter SEABOURNE (b.1960)
This a song for you alone (2003) [20.02]
Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974)
Suite No. 3 op. 19 no. 1 for Violin, Viola and Strings (1917) [10.52]
Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006)
Double Concerto for Two Violins and Strings (1962) [17.32]
Irina Borissova (violin); Agnes Langer (violin); Dmitry Khaklain (viola and conductor: Seabourne)
Mainzer Virtuosi/Anne Shih
rec. Roter Saal, Hochschule fr Musik, Mainz, 2003
SHEVA CONTEMPORARY SH091 [53.26]

The brief opening work for this string music concert is Kleiberg’s Ashes for solo violin. Its inspiration was the painting of the same name by Edvard Munch, an erotic evocation of shame showing a half-dressed woman standing before a man with his head in his hands after an intimate encounter. The music laments and rises to passionate protest as the tempo quickens. There is here a nightmarish quality as well as an affecting poignancy.

Seabourne’s Appassionato opening movement for This is a song for you alone violin concerto continues this dark unsettling mood. The love here is tumultuous and turbulent. The heartfelt music pleads and cajoles, but the mood is anguished. When the tension eases there is a vague understated dance and a calm of sorts. Lyricism suffuses the cadenza but the prevailing mood is spectral and nightmarish. The following Dolce - semplice movement is calmer, sweeter and lyrical up to a point. Yet if this is romance, it is definitely cool – more of the head than the heart – cerebral, almost a singular logical discussion. At length there is tenderness – love communicated, if tenuously and with, one might imagine, conflicting emotional impulses.

I have to admit I was drawn to listening to this album because it included a three-movement work by one of my favourite composers Kurt Atterberg - the Suite for Violin, Viola and Strings, compiled from incidental music composed for Maeterlinck’s play, Sister Beatrice. As usual Atterberg produces tonal music that is affecting and accessible. The opening Prelude and especially the following exquisitely melodic Pantomim movements are most heartfelt. The concluding Vision is a waltz akin to Sibelius’s Valse Triste but, I guess, there is also a nod towards Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz.

The most substantial work here is Arnold’s Double Concerto for Two Violins and Strings. The opening Allegro risoluto is sturdy, restless, combative. There are influences of Britten and Bernard Herrmann in Psycho mode here. The more relaxed central Andantino pleads and sings plaintively over a hesitant bass tread. Much of the material is darker and I was put in mind of that Psycho score again - the film was released in 1960, two years before Arnold’s composition.

Altogether this rather short-measure concert is not exactly light-hearted. Greater variety of material might have been advisable yet the performances are committed and sparky enough.

Ian Lace
 
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