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Hyperion Records

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The Violin Composition by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67841
Recording details: March 2009
Jerusalem Music Centre, Israel
Produced by Eric Wen
Engineered by Zvi Hirshler
Release date: March 2012
Total duration: 15 minutes 31 seconds

'Shaham and Erez deliver outstandingly committed performances, revelling in the music's virtuosity, fantasy and heightened intensity of expression' (BBC Music Magazine)

Suite No 2, Op 22
1906/7; dedicated to Leopold Auer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Suite No 2, Op 22, displays a remarkable advance in style and technical virtuosity, the titles suggesting a set of Romantic character pieces, written in a progressive idiom. The five movements take us from A minor to A major, via the more distant relationship of the tritone E flat in the second movement, and the more conventional E major (the dominant) and C sharp minor in the third and fourth.

A Bartók-like five-beat rhythm contributes to the first movement’s elusive, volatile character suggested in its title, En passant. Here two themes alternate, developed in instrumental interactions, the final repeat of the first idea soaring high with harmonics and pizzicato. The Menuet contrasts two phrases, the first Bach-like and highly ornamented on its reprise, the second a capricious chromatic rising sequence. The contrasting Trio introduces biting dissonances and wayward harmony, before the Menuet’s return. Helter-skelter staccato scales in the aptly titled Moulin (‘Windmill’) evoke the relentless activity implied by the title, the piano’s theme transformed through chromatic sequences. The marking Vivace e gajamente assai conveys the mood of this virtuoso display piece. The dramatic highpoint of the Suite No 2 is the poetic Intermezzo, its yearning to reach light from darkness enacted in the striving for E major from the darker C sharp minor. The violin’s initial soliloquy leads to an eloquent melody over slowly rising piano chords. It is repeated by piano alone, then, with a new descending idea, by both partners. Here the violin finally reaches E major, coming to rest before falling like a windswept leaf to a repeat of the opening soliloquy in the dark minor. The Suite ends with an exhilarating Allegro molto e scherzando in a broad ternary design introduced by trills and leaps. As the title Marionettes suggests, the violin theme is playful, developing a toccata-like texture in high registers that leads to a percussive pizzicato descent. A central section brings dazzling trills, leaps and syncopations, followed by a reprise of the main theme that leaps to stratospheric registers for the concluding climax.

from notes by Malcolm Miller © 2012

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