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Parts To Play
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata for solo violin in D major, Op.115 (1947) [12:20]
Timo ANDRES (b.1985)
Violin Sonata (2004) [15:55]
Libby LARSEN (b.1950)
Blue Piece (2010) [2:49]
Judith Lang ZAIMONT (b.1945)
Grand Tarantella (1970) [5:41]
Jilted Tango (c.2009) [5:21]
Michael DAUGHERTY (b.1954)
Viva (2012) [2:46]
Benjamin ELLIN
Three States at Play [9:58]
Moonkyung Lee (violin)
Martha Locker (piano)
rec. 2017, Futura Productions, Roslindale, USA
NAVONA NV6165 [54:53]

Moonkyung Lee has constructed an interesting programme that divides fairly evenly between works for violin and piano and works for solo violin. None will be especially well known, not even the Prokofiev, which has a pedagogic background, though compositional names such as Larsen, Zaimont and Daugherty should be sufficiently stimulating to investigate the whole recital.

Prokofiev wrote his solo sonata in 1947 with the intention that it should be played in unison by violin students. It took another twelve years for its premiere, by which time its composer had long since died. One can imagine Ruggiero Ricci enjoying the responsibility of premiering this little piece in Moscow, though even he would have been hard-pressed to draw out too much resinous drama from its pages, despite some of the technical challenges in the finale. Meanwhile, Moonkyung Lee is notably successful in the taut, fast-paced central panel of the delightful slow movement.

There’s a similar kind of Prokofiev-like pedagogic intent, at least in part, in Timo Andres’ Violin Sonata. Intended for sight-reading – though that’s certainly not what’s going on in this performance – its clean-limbed and elegantly drawn writing owes much to Schubert’s Violin Sonatinas whose clarity they emulate. But maybe too in the musing and songful central movement there are echoes of Prokofiev, the ethereal elements of which are well conveyed by the soloist, who retains an impressively full tone even in higher positions, aided to a great degree by pianist Martha Locker’s deft playing.

Libby Larsen’s 2010 Blue Piece enshrines some elegant sliding blues hues whilst Judith Lang Zaimont’s Grand Tarantella sits firmly in the tradition of showpieces, its virtuosity carefully balanced by a sensitively shaped slower section. The intriguingly titled Jilted Tango by Rain Worthington suggests the push-pull narrative of this piece with its strong hint of a risoluto conclusion. Moonkyung Lee assumes solo responsibilities for the final two items. Daugherty’s Viva was commissioned by Vadim Gluzman, a gutsy soloist, but Lee proves equal to its dancing demands, both resinous and exciting. Finally, Benjamin Ellin’s Three States at Play lives out its instructions. There’s the opening movement, a Molto furioso, to which Ellin has appended the word ‘Defiantly!’ Its fire is accompanied by a freewheeling elegance and an unexpectedly introverted panel leading on to a Chorale in the central movement and the driving energy of a finale Ellin calls ‘Full of spirit and bite’. Quite so; this is just how it’s played here.

This is an enjoyable recital of largely contemporary music of great approachability and character. It helps having two characterful instrumentalists such as these to bring that music to life so vividly.

Jonathan Woolf



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