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Cat. No. CHAN 10705 Price: 10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10705 - Bartok: Works for Violin and Piano, Volume 1
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Available From: 15 December 2011
Bartok: Works for Violin and Piano, Volume 1

This is the second volume in a series devoted to the works for strings by Béla Bartók, with James Ehnes the featured soloist. Earlier this year, Ehnes recorded the Violin and Viola Concertos (CHAN 10690), which was made Disc of the Month in Gramophone magazine. On this new recording, he turns to the Violin Sonatas and Rhapsodies, complemented by the earliest surviving work by Bartók for violin and piano, an Andante. He is accompanied by the pianist Andrew Armstrong. 
 
Dedicated to the Hungarian violinist Adila d’Arányi, the sonatas for violin and piano were composed in 1921 – 22, around the same time as the highly successful ballet score The Miraculous Mandarin. Of the two works, the Sonata in C sharp minor is the more traditional in terms of its structure, and characterised by a mood that is sometimes exhilarated, sometimes turbulent – but always virtuosic. The finale builds from a series of increasingly wild dances, folk-like in style but entirely expressionistic.
 
In the Sonata in C major, Bartók removes himself from classical form and traditional tonal practice, calling on the violinist to distance himself from the romantic manner of playing. At several points, for example, the violin is played without vibrato, producing an ethereally cool and distant sound. The improvisatory character is strong throughout, as the work repeatedly alternates between the quiet and thoughtful, and the stormy and strident. The ending, in contrast to the earlier sonata, is understated, emotional, and expressive.
 
Bartók’s two rhapsodies for piano and violin, dedicated respectively to Joseph Szigeti and Zoltán Székely, are steeped in the tradition of Hungarian folk music. Exuberant and infectious, the works are heavily inspired by the csárdás, the national dance of Hungary, and display the traditional pairing of lassú (slow) and friss (lively) movements.
 

Reviews

     Recording of the Month
"...This is a magnificent disc, wonderful playing captured in fantastic sound, and a fine way to begin an exploration of Bartók’s work in this genre. Roll on Volume Two."
 
Simon Thompson - Musicweb-International.com - 18 June 2012

“Canadian violinist James Ehnes is one of the most technically accomplished musicians playing today. The appeal of his performances, however, goes beyond the fireworks produced by his hands to the ideas infused into the music by his vivid musical intelligence... As usual for Chandos, this disc is rendered in excellent sound.”
Charles T. Downey – The ClassicalReview.com – 26 March 2012
 

"Thrilling Bartók  from a player who triumphed in the composer’s concertos ... James Ehnes weaves Bartók’s extended lines like spells ..."
Tim Homfray - The Strad - April 2012

"Violinist James Ehnes has already gained a solid reputation as something of a Bartók specialist with his recent recording of the violin and viola concertos,...(also Chandos - CHAN 10690). With this new recording, this reputation should be further enhanced. However, I should emphasize that his piano partner, Andrew Armstrong, need not take second billing either....This first volume of Bartók music for violin and piano is a strong contender for both programming and performances..."

Leslie Wright - musicweb-international.com - March 2012


**** Performance       *** Sound
Maxime Lawrence - Classica - March 2012


             Performance *****      Recording *****
“This beautifully recorded disc provides us with all the mature works for Bartók composed for violin and piano. They are performances of outstanding musical insight and technical
brilliance...”
Erik Levi – BBC Music magazine  - March 2012

“The rapport between the BBC Philharmonic and its conductor laureate Gianandrea  Noseda is amply illustrated, with James Ehnes a technically flawless soloist ...” *****
Michael Kennedy – The Telegraph – 11 December 2011


 

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