MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Paul BEN-HAIM (1897-1984)
Evocation for violin and orchestra (1942) [19:18]
Three Songs Without Words for violin and piano (1951) [9:37]
Violin Concerto (1960) [20:58]
Three Studies for solo violin (1981) [6:51]
Berceuse Sfaradite for violin and piano (1945) [3:38]
Toccata from Five Pieces for Piano Op.34, arranged for violin and orchestra by Moshe Zorman [3:19]
Itamar Zorman (violin)
Amy Yang (piano)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Philippe Bach
rec. 2017, Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, Wales
BIS BIS2398 SACD [65:00]

Paul Frankenburger was born in Munich in 1897 and after a successful career with the Augsburg Opera fled Nazi Germany to Israel where he changed his surname to “son of Heinrich”, i.e. Ben-Haim.

The CD opens with the title work, Evocation, composed in 1942. It is a sonata-form piece subtitled Poem for Violin and Orchestra, which is dominated by a haunting three-note figure. Stylistically, I am somewhat reminded of Bloch in early romantic mood, and the booklet tends to confirm this by stating it is only at the end of the work that we hear traces of Eastern-European Jewish style. It begins with low strings and harps overlaid by the brass languorously intoning the three-note figure, and it develops via a sting cantilena into an impassioned, flowing Allegro, at the end of which the rhapsodic violin enters. It sings its mournful song, based on the motif, until at the climax the brass become more prominent, impressively blazing it out. We then have a cadenza for the violin. The music calms down. Thematically, we are back to the slow introduction but this time the violin sings at stratospheric highs accompanied by high woodwind and harp in wonderfully diaphanous scoring. The music slowly fades to silence. It is an impressive piece with much contrast within its single movement. And I have very much enjoyed making its acquaintance.

There is only one more work on the disk from the same period as Evocation – the Berceuse Sfaradite from 1945. This is a setting of a Sephardic folk song, which became the composer’s best known and most popular piece when sung by singer Bracha Zefira. Here, it is presented in an arrangement for Violin and Piano, in a style very much reminiscent of some French music of the early 20th Century. It’s a lightweight work, designed for tuneful enjoyment.

The Violin Concerto of 1960 is a very different proposition from Evocation – Ben-Haim’s style had evolved by then to integrate Eastern Jewish musical elements into a Western musical language. It is immediately evident that at that point in his compositional career he had embraced Neo-Classicism and I can hear little resemblance to Bloch here, even in Bloch’s Neo-Classical works. The booklet tells us that the work is composed mostly with Middle Eastern inflexions where Ben-Haim attempts to transfer quarter-tones into the traditional Western twelve tones. For me, the most attractive part is the central Andante affettuoso where the melismatic arabesques have an almost hypnotic effect. The last movement is a dance, quite fiery in its impact, which finishes the work off effectively. The composer’s orchestration is very colourful but I must admit to not being a fan of the Neo-Classical style in general.

The Three Songs Without Words of 1952 rather remind me stylistically of Bloch’s Baal Shem in its violin and piano version, although the deep emotion and melodic strength of the Bloch work exceeds those qualities of the Ben-Haim’s. It illustrates three aspects of daily life in the Middle East: The heat of the midday sun in the Judean hills, the babbling of a Middle Eastern storyteller and a Sephardic tune. I found it to be a most attractive piece.

The late (1981) Three Studies for Solo Violin were composed for Yehudi Menuhin. Ben-Haim was already very ill when he wrote these pieces and the booklet note states that he did not have time or energy to put performance markings in the score. Both outer movements are fast and essentially ornamentation around the main notes of a line. The middle movement is a slow fugue. I found them to be rather dry and uninteresting.

The CD is rounded off with an arrangement for violin and orchestra of a piano toccata. As the booklet says, it is a wild, virtuoso dance that imitates the sound of an Arabic stringed instrument.

This is a dual layer CD/SACD disc that I listened to in stereo via an SACD player. The SACD sound quality is well up to BIS’s exalted standards and very little less when played as a standard CD. The performances are all very fine. The booklet notes, written by the violinist, are in English, German and French, incorporating biographical and music documentation.

Jim Westhead

 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus