Hyperion Records

Suite No 1 'en style ancien', Op 21
1906/7; dedicated to Isidor Lotto

'Achron: Complete Suites for violin and piano' (CDA67841)
Achron: Complete Suites for violin and piano
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Movement 1: Prélude: Tempo giusto
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Movement 2: Gavotte: Allegro moderato
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Movement 3: Sicilienne: Andantino
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Movement 4: Fughetta: Non troppo allegro
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Movement 5: Gigue: Allegro comodo
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Suite No 1 'en style ancien', Op 21
The subtitle to the Suite No 1, Op 21, ‘en style ancien’, refers to its neo-Baroque anachronisms, evident in the movement titles and key structure (from D minor to D major, via F major, A minor and D minor), the simple two- and three-part forms, and much imitation and ornamentation. Yet the infiltration of late-Romantic and modern elements links Achron to the contemporary neoclassicism of Stravinsky and Ravel, whilst the first and third movements specifically foreshadow Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro and Dushkin’s Sicilienne.

The Prélude opens with strident violin arpeggios unfolding bold Baroque harmonic sequences, contrasted by more chromatic arpeggios which descend, before retrieving the initial splendour. In the Gavotte, the elegant, ornamented melody over a running bass is imbued with a contemporary perspective through the intriguing ‘rustic’ tuning and drones of the more chordal second section, and the chromatic richness of the central trio. The expressive heart of the Suite No 1 is the Sicilienne, its lilting melody for muted violin, over gentle piano chords, rising to a climactic solo cadenza. A passage of chromatic counterpoint returns us to a calm conclusion. The effervescent Fughetta is redolent of Baroque writing, yet again enriched with chromaticism. Its sprightly subject is introduced by the violin and answered in fugal manner by the piano in various registers. The violin’s chordal textures build to a powerful pedal-point and the final bold appearance of the subject, replete with triple-stopping. A fine finale ensues in the bristling Gigue, a rondo form with several contrasting episodes. The dance-like theme returns in a slowed-down version in the violin’s low register, then in a new key before an exciting cascade to the theme’s cheerful reappearance.

from notes by Malcolm Miller © 2012

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