La Ronde des lutins (Scherzo fantastique), Antonio Bazzini *
Graceful Ghost, William Bolcom * Walpurgisnacht Op.75 no.4,
Johannes Brahms * Puck, Edvard Grieg * Caprice fantastique,
Erich Wolfgang Korngold * Hexenlied op.8 no.8, Felix Mendelssohn
* Young Frankenstein, John Morris * Caprice in B flat major
op.1 no.13, Nicolò Paganini * Danse macabre in G minor,
Camille Saint-Saëns * Concert fantasy on Gounod's 'Faust' Pablo
de Sarasate * Sonata in G minor, 'Devil's Trill', Giuseppe
Tartini * The Witches of Eastwick devil's dance, John Williams *
Sonata for solo violin in A minor, op.27.no.2 1: Obsession Eugène
The devil has long been reputed to be partial to the violin, and the booklet
notes by David Lawrence make a good assessment as to why this should be so.
What the notes don't do is offer any background on the music on devil's
dance, or offer a shred of information about violinist Gil Shaham and
pianist Jonathan Feldman. There are 13 pieces, mostly arrangements of well
known romantic classical works with satanic and/or supernatural associations.
The first two tracks are different. The opening 'Devil's Dance' is arranged
as a duet for violin and piano by John Williams from his own score for the
1987 film The Witches of Eastwick. This is not a sign of cross-over
dumbing-down, but a fiendishly witty scherzo with a malevolent driving pulse
suggesting that time is running out. Williams arrangement is fresh and vital
and Shaham attacks the propulsive melody with tremendous energy and glee.
The second track is Jonathan Feldman's arrangement of 'A Transylvanian Lullaby'
from the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein. A deliciously knowing
piece which pays due homage in all the right places while simultaneously
taking itself seriously.
Elsewhere we have a transcription of Grieg's tribute to 'Puck' and the charming
light music piece, 'Graceful Ghost' by William Bolcom; these in contrast
to the darker goings on of Brahm's 'Walpurgisnacht' and Mendelssohn's
'Hexenlied'. Such pieces are generally short, allowing the album to be dominated
by two longer virtuoso showcases which leave the listener, let alone the
performers, breathless. These are Pablo de Sarasate's 'Concert Fantasy on
Gounod's Faust' and Giuseppe Tartini's 'Sonata in G minor Devil's
This is dynamic, exhilarating, at times witty, music making. Fiery, intense,
passionate and not a little disturbing if one stops to think about the subject
matter. It's not the sort of disc to listen to all the way through at once,
a few tracks at a time being the best way to savour this fine musicianship.
If the presentation is tacky by DG's normally aristocratic standards, the
sound is demonstration quality. When called to, Shahman and Feldman play
as if their lives depended on it. Let's pray no one had to sell their soul.
Gary S. Dalkin