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Track(s) taken from CDA67571

Suite for solo violin No 2

1958; commissioned by and dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin; first performed by Alberto Lysy, Wigmore Hall 2 January 1959

Hagai Shaham (violin)
Recording details: May 2006
Jerusalem Music Centre, Israel
Produced by Eric Wen
Engineered by Phil McClelland
Release date: February 2007
Total duration: 11 minutes 15 seconds


'Both composers are served extremely well on this beautifully recorded disc, Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez in particular giving a totally convincing performance of Bloch's well-known Baal Shem … The overall impact is all the more powerful for the sure sense of pacing both artists demonstrate through the recital' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Such a fine soloist as Hagai Shaham … The Baal Shem Suite … receives an excellent performance. Shaham projects the ectsasy of the climaxes marvellously, underpinned by evocative fanfares from Arnon Erez's piano … This remains a fine release of worthwhile and relatively neglected repertoire' (International Record Review)

'Shaham's fiddle weeps with an expressive rich, dark tone, especially in the Nigun movement…' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Hagai Shaham possesses the ideal kind of silver-toned, narrow-vibratoed purity to make these occasionally melodramatic pieces ring true. Rather than fall back on a well-upholstered, opulent sound, he streamlines his tone, adding a special kind of intensity to Bloch's soaring climaxes. Shaham strikes just the right balance between interpretative cool and swashbuckling bravado in Baal Shem … the recording is excellent throughout' (The Strad)

'The vibrancy of Hagai Shaham’s tone and his willingness to engage in expressive devices, apparent from the first notes of Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem, promises visceral performances of commanding penetration. That the tone, however refined, also possesses a sprinkling of grit hardly detracts from the strong-mindedness of his readings … Hagai Shaham sounds as much at home in this kind of ethnic material as in the hushed sections of the second movement or in the bold, virtuosic gestures of the third. By contrast with the Solo Sonata, Ben-Haïm’s two pieces for violin and piano present contrasting faces of romanticism, the Berceuse sfaradite, a rich melodious outpouring, and the Improvisation and Dance, a flamboyant showpiece. Those drawn in any way to these composers should find Shaham’s advocacy convincing. Strongly recommended, however, to all kinds of listeners' (Fanfare, USA)

'Shaham reveals a penetrating intensity, exalted and colorful at once' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'These [performances] are truly inspiring. Shaham is unafraid of liquid, quick portamenti in the Baal Shem Suite and he is at pains to balance Hebraic fervour with high lying lyricism. The harp-like ripple of the second movement is a testament to Erez’s involving and colour-conscious playing. Shaham intelligently varies his tone here – this is not an understated Nigun but it is one that says a lot without saying too much. The joyous buoyancy and culminatory exultation of the finale show how adept the duo has been throughout – they pace the suite extremely well … The playing is insightful, expressive, and thoroughly idiomatic. These two musicians make an articulate and important statement about both composers’ work' (MusicWeb International)

'Performances are simply electrifying, and the relentless tension that they create is almost unbearable. A vividly recorded and superbly documented disc all round' (Classical.net)

'Les interprètes abordent ces deux compositeurs avec la ferveur à la fois distanciée et fiévruese qu'ils mettaient au service de Grieg. Ils imposent une grande liberté rhapsodique, mais sans rien de maniéré. Le son de Hagai Shaham est puissant, à la fois bourru et attendri' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Hagai Shaham complète l'intégrale des oeuvres pour violon et piano de Bloch, commencée avec succès il y a deux ans. On retrouve dans le Bal Shem dans la Suite hébräique et dans les deux très rares Suites pour le violin seul, les mêmes qualités que dans les ouvrages déjà gravés: archet conquérant, superbe sonorité, phrasés élégants et intelligemment pensés donnant à l'interprétation sensualité ou spiritualité. Les trois oeuvres de Ben-Haïm—Sonate pour violin seul, Bercuese sfaradite et Improvisation et Dance —bénéficent également d'une lecture de tout premier plan … Toujours exemplaire, Anon Erez au piano, anticipe toutes les intentions de son partenaire' (Classica, France)
Suite No 2 for solo violin comprises four movements, played without pauses: Energico, deciso; Moderato; Andante; Allegro molto. The improvisatory character of the opening movement recalls some of the material heard in certain impassioned passages in Baal Shem. The second movement, a gentle dance in compound time, with a striking chordal section as its centrepiece, is followed by a warm, lyrical Andante. The serene mood is shattered by the dissonant opening of the finale, which heralds a pounding perpetuum mobile full of repeated notes, broken chords and wide leaps.

Aside from frequently shifting tonal centres, occasional flirtations with serialism, and abrupt changes of tempo and dynamics, Bloch’s intention here was not to experiment with modern techniques, but rather to extend the ethos of the eighteenth century into the language of his own epoch.

from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2007

La Suite no 2 pour violon solo compte quatre mouvements, joués à la file: Energico, deciso; Moderato; Andante; Allegro molto. Le caractère improvisé du mouvement d’ouverture rappelle une partie du matériau de certains passages fervents de Baal Shem. Le deuxième mouvement—une danse douce en mesure composée avec, en son centre, une saisissante section en accords—précède un chaleureux et lyrique Andante. Puis l’atmosphère sereine est assombrie par l’ouverture dissonante du finale, qui annonce un martelant perpetuum mobile gorgé de notes répétées, d’accords arpégés et de larges sauts.

Bloch a beau passer souvent d’un centre tonal à l’autre, flirter parfois avec le sérialisme, changer brusquement de tempo et de dynamique, il n’entend pas expérimenter ici les techniques modernes, mais plutôt étendre l’ethos du XVIIIe siècle au langage de son temps.

extrait des notes rédigées par Alexander Knapp © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Die Suite Nr. 2 für Solovioline besitzt vier Sätze, die ohne Pause durchgespielt werden: Energico, deciso; Moderato; Andante; Allegro molto. Der improvisatorische Charakter des Anfangssatzes erinnert an einiges Material, das in gewissen leidenschaftlichen Passagen in Baal Schem zu hören ist. Dem zweiten Satz, einem sanften Tanz im Dreiertakt mit einem bemerkenswerten akkordischen Abschnitt im Zentrum, folgt ein warm-lyrisches Andante. Die heitere Stimmung wird durch den dissonanten Einsatz des Finales gestört, der ein pochendes Perpetuum mobile voller repetierter Noten, gebrochener Akkorde und weiter Sprünge ankündigt.

Abgesehen von häufig wechselnden Tonzentren, gelegentlichem Flirten mit Serialismus und abruptem Wechsel von Tempo und Dynamik, beabsichtigt Bloch hier nicht, mit modernen Techniken zu experimentieren, sondern eher den Ethos des 18. Jahrhunderts in die Sprache seiner eigenen Epoche einzubringen.

aus dem Begleittext von Alexander Knapp © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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