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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67439
Recording details: February 2004
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Eric Wen
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: February 2005
Total duration: 20 minutes 6 seconds

'Bloch's first Sonata given a 'devastating performance' … If there is any justice, this fine new recording will win these undervalued works new friends. Please try these sonatas, whether or not you already know them' (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)

'With fine engineering, realistically balanced, and excellent annotation, this is a digital front-runner' (Gramophone)

'Mix Bartok, Debussy and a dash of Lisztian bravado and you'll get something very close to Bloch's folksong-inflected, post-Romantic sound-world. Intoxicating performances guaranteed to set the pulse racing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'In both works, Shaham meets Bloch's extreme technical demands without flinching; and his timbral control is dazzling throughout (his ability to spin silk at the top of his register is especially astonishing). Pianist Arnon Erez seconds him admirably, whether the score demands that he engage in intricate give-and-take with the violinist or that he slip off into a different world entirely' (International Record Review)

'Played with lean intensity and dead-centre intonation reminiscent of the young Heifetz, these neglected works come fizzing off the page to mesmerising effect' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hagai Shaham…(compared to Isaac Stern's recording of the first sonata) plays with similar intensity if not with equally ecstatic frenzy … Hagai Shaham, who has championed the music of violinist-composers Joseph Achron and, more recently, Jenö Hubay, produces a steely rather than a sumptuous tone. His grandiloquent oratorical flourishes, as well as his edgy technical display, therefore flash like tempered steel, however, leaving the least trace of coldness … So another disc or so from Shaham could encompass everything Bloch wrote for the violin (and perhaps even include the concerto). Given the strong appeal of this initial offering, that's a consummation devoutly to be wished. Highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'Shaham impresses in all aspects of these sonatas. His manner is fiery, his tone is full-bodied from a top of great purity to a bottom deep and resonant, and he tosses off the virtuoso passages with aplomb. Erez is a full partner, sometimes coming close to usurping the lead, which can be all to the good here. He roams the keyboard with assurance, playing with crisp exactitude and full-bodied tone' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Here Shaham and Erez play with wonderful empathy and understanding, undoubtedly this is music that they feel with a deep passion. The aching Molto quieto is also very beautiful whilst the concluding Moderato really kicks off a whirlwind of activity that has Shaham on true top form…this whole disc is a definite must for lovers of solo violin especially those with a penchant for Bloch's unique music' (Classical.net)

'It's a credit to Shaham and accompanist Arnon Erez that this work carries such a punch. Bloch's knowledge of the violin—he was taught by a master in Ysaye—means that the passagework is frequently taxing, but with this completely under his fingers Shaham has no worry' (MusicOHM.com)

'Hagai Shaham confirms a remarkable talent, which goes far beyond the technical performance … This disc is essential at the head of a rather thin but high level catalogue [of this repertoire]' (Diapason, France)

'Bloch of emotions: vehemence and serenity, stud and certainty, poetry, brutality, sensuality, spirituality: the interpretation which is delivered to us by Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez is of an incredible richness … But it is especially the interpretation of the five works which confers all its richness. There Hagai Shaham signs one of the most beautiful versions of these partitions: all is translated in a way subtle and inspired by a bow of an absolute control, a sumptuous sonority and a vibrato of an infinite diversity… in this album, Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez, which one will never say enough the virtues of executants and especially of interpreters, reach the level of excellence' (Classica, France)

Violin Sonata No 2 'Poème mystique'
composer
1924

Andante moderato  [4'18]
Animato  [3'38]
L'istesso tempo  [5'19]
Animato  [6'51]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Audiences at this time found the Sonata No 1 bewildering, and Bloch, sensitive to their sense of shock, felt the need to compensate by writing something serene, ecstatic, spiritual, mystical. His Violin Sonata No 2 (Poème mystique) was conceived in one movement divided into several contrasting sections. The composition of Poème mystique was triggered by a dream that Bloch had after a mild overdose of Veronal, following a period of intense crisis and illness. The main musical characteristics are the long melodic lines (the first of which comprises rising and falling open fourths and fifths), and the use – about half-way through – of a prominent motif borrowed from the works of the ‘Jewish Cycle’, followed almost immediately by the Gregorian Credo in the violin part in octaves, the Gloria of the Mass Kyrie Fons bonitatis shared between piano and violin, and a traditional Amen on the violin. The Latin text appears above the musical notation. This simple and lyrical work, similar in some ways to the slow movement of the Piano Quintet of 1921–3 and stylistically not unlike Szymanowski, was dedicated to the violinist André de Ribaupierre (also a student of Ysaÿe) and Beryl Rubinstein – colleagues of Bloch at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2005

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