Catégorie : Review

Ludwig Van (Toronto) / / MUSICUM UMBRARUM (Pemi Paull)


“Musicum Umbrarum makes up for as a treasure trove of intimate portraits (…) This debut by Pemi Paull shows a soloist who plays for the right reasons, and offers some much-needed attention on this oft-overlooked instrument in a solo capacity“.

Michael Vincent, Ludwig Van (Toronto)
Pemi Paull’s Musicum Umbrarum Puts The Viola In Its Dark Place

Tempting as it may be to start a review of a solo viola album with a viola joke (and I love me a good viola joke), there is nothing to lark about here. 

The main reasons are Pemi Paull, a musician who has made a career as a go-to violist in Montréal and Toronto, and his debut album, Musicum Umbrarum.

Before digging into the merits of this album, the musical string family can be summarized as follows: the firstborn violin is the perennial favourite; the showiest of the bunch with the first place……

Ici Musique (Radio-Canada) / MUSICUM UMBRARUM (Pemi Paull)


“Quel interprète que ce Pemi Paull ! (…) Des échos fantomatiques du folklore roumain selon Georges Enesco à la fantastique Sonate de Ligeti, en passant par la pièce néo-Renaissance Obrecht Motetten III, de Michael Finissy, les Two Wölffli Sketches, du Canadien Scott Godin, et le délicieux et charmant arrangement en pizzicato de l’Adagietto de la 5e symphonie de Mahler, tout est impressionnant et remarquablement interprété.”.

Frédéric Cardin, Ici Musique (Radio-Canada)
Pemi Paull : l’alto qui va plus loin

L’alto, ce violon plus baraqué que son petit frère plus célèbre, donne souvent l’impression d’être le parent pauvre de la famille des cordes. Il reçoit beaucoup moins d’attention et est bien moins chouchouté par les compositeurs. Mais le Montréalais de naissance (et plus encore de cœur!) Pemi Paull vient démontrer toute l’erreur qu’il y aurait à ignorer cet instrument au son agréablement ténébreux. Musicum Umbrarum est un premier opus, très réussi,……

Radio-Canada International (Critique) / LES AMANTS DE L’OMBRE


« Un moment de grâce »

« Six chansons qui demandent à être découvertes… avec mille et une tendresses». «Les amants de l’ombre, un disque sur lequel on retrouve six chansons qui demandent une attention, un moment de grâce lors de l’écoute. »

Raymond Desmarteau, Radio-Canada International 

The Classical reviewer (review) / LEKEU / FRANCK / BOULANGER

“Frédéric Bednarz and Natsuki Hiratsuka bring exceptionally fine, idiomatic and subtle performances of works for violin and piano by Guillaume Lekeu, César Franck and Lili Boulanger on a release from metis islands music”.

Brice Reader, The Classical reviewer

Frédéric Bednarz brings a beautifully refined tone to the opening of the Très modéré – Vif et passionné of Lekeu’s Sonata with some wonderfully limpid phrases from Natsuki Hiratsuka before developing through more incisive moments where this violinist finds a passionate edge. They hold a fine balance between the gentler flow and more passionate, dramatic moments, often with an underswell of tension. The music builds in drama and power with some very fine textures from Bednarz, before trying to find the gentler nature of the opening but rising again in passion with some wonderful textures as the music reaches the quieter, more thoughtful coda.

Hiratsuka brings a slow introduction to the second movement,……

Classical Music (review) / LEKEU / FRANCK / BOULANGER

Four stars ★★★★

“Bednarz and Hiratsuka capture the post-Wagnerian sound world of Lekeu with a Gallic sensitivity, which also proves ideal in the Nocturne (…)”
Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine /


The Wholenote Magazine (review) / LEKEU / FRANCK / BOULANGER

Terry Robbins, The Wholenote Magazine /

There’s another performance of the Franck Violin Sonata on a new CD featuring works by Lekeu, Franck and Boulanger from the Montreal violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka (Metis Islands Music MIM-0006).

Guillaume Lekeu and Lili Boulanger (Nadia’s younger sister) both died at the tragically young age of 24. Lekeu’s Sonata in G Major is a fine three-movement work, with its long violin lines and agitated piano in the outer movements somewhat reminiscent of the Franck, which was written just six years earlier. Bednarz’s beautiful sweetness of tone is evident right from the start.

Boulanger was always in fragile health, and her works often seem to display her awareness of her condition. Nocturne is a simply lovely and delightful piece, again perfectly suited to Bednarz’s sweet tone. The Franck Sonata is the centrepiece of the CD, and again it’s the tonal quality……

La Scena Musicale (review) / LEKEU / FRANCK / BOULANGER

6 ÉTOILES !  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

” Un must pour les amateurs de musique de chambre”.

Eric Champagne / La Scena Musicale

Les chambristes Frédéric Bednarz au violon et Natsuki Hiratsuka au piano ont concocté un album des plus divins! Le programme tout français regroupe deux sonates majeures du répertoire, celles de Lekeu et de Franck, ainsi qu’un petit nocturne de Lili Boulanger et le tout est interprété avec une finesse et un sens musical exquis. De la sonate de Guillaume Lekeu, l’oeuvre la plus connue de ce compositeur un peu oublié, voire négligé, les musiciens proposent une interprétation fluide et mouvante. Le caractère est toujours juste, le phrasé respire l’intimité et la tendresse, et la parfaite complicité des musiciens transparaît dans les moindres détails de cette charmante partition. La sonate de César Franck est ici abordée avec une aisance dans la tension et de l’émotion, tout en……

Fanfare (review) / LEKEU / FRANCK / BOULANGER

“Bednarz and Hiratsuka are well on their way to establishing themselves as a formidable violin and piano duo. Highly recommended”.

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

Here is an interesting program which avoids the routine by pairing the over-familiar Franck Violin Sonata with the very much less often heard sonata by Guillaume Lekeu and the almost never heard Nocturne by Lili Boulanger. At least once told—perhaps twice—is the story of my first encounter with Lekeu’s sonata on a mid-1950s RCA LP, performed by Yehudi Menuhin and Marcel Gazelle. The piece struck me as a “wanderer’s fantasy” if ever there was one, as I kept an impatient eye on the turntable arm slowly making its way across the grooves and wondering, not when, but if it would ever end. Lekeu may have lived to be only 24 (1870–1894) and to have composed fewer than 30 works during his short lifespan, but not a few of them,……


Robert Maxham, Fanfare / Fanfare

Violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka open the first movement of Karol Szymanowski’s early Violin Sonata with a commanding shot, and they maintain the level it sets as the movement proceeds. Bednarz proves himself capable of deploying a wide variety of violinistic effects, from the elusively shimmery to the soaringly declamatory. And that palette fits Szymanowski’s work to perfection. Hiratsuka’s a sympathetic partner, exploring in collaboration with him the composer’s colorful harmonies and lush melodies. She evinces a special sensitivity to the haunting sonorities that open the second movement; the duo brings a fey magic to the pizzicato middle section and returns to the opening section with an eerie reminiscence of Frédéric Chopin. They communicate the agitated state of the finale’s opening and rise to the emotional richness of the middle section. If Szymanowski’s sonata hasn’t yet penetrated the standard repertoire, Bednarz and Hiratsuka……


Terry Robbins, The Wholenote Magazine /

The Montreal-born violinist Frederic Bednarz is joined by his wife, pianist Natsuki
Hiratsuka, in a CD of Sonatas for violin and piano by Szymanowski and Shostakovich (Metis Islands Music MIM-0004 metisislands. com). Karol Szymanowski’s Sonata in D Minor, Op.9, is an early work from 1904; it’s a traditional late-Romantic piece with more than a passing reference to the Franck sonata, and is given a clear, thoughtful reading by both players.

The Shostakovich Sonata Op.134 is, by contrast, a late work, written in 1968 for David Oistrakh’s 60th birthday; as with so much late Shostakovich, it never seems to shake that all-pervasive sense of nervous apprehension, desolation and loss of hope. Again, the playing is sensitive and clear, with a particularly effective Largo, the third and final movement which is almost as long as the first two movements put together. There could perhaps……


Richard Whitehouse / Gramophone U.K.

These works, from either end of their composers’ output, make for an unlikely yet effective pairing. Szymanowski’s Violin Sonata (1909) is often seen as a product of the period when he was still in thrall to German late-Romanticism, yet echoes of Fauré, Franck and Enescu make its ‘French’ provenance the more tangible. Frédéric Bednarz and Natsuki Hiratsuka bring flexibility to the rhetoric of its initial Allegro, then underline the plaintiveness of the Andantino as well as the resolve of the finale when it builds to its decisive close: the piece emerging as formally more cohesive and expressively less wayward than is often the case.

Where Szymanowski luxuriates, Shostakovich ruminates: the latter’s Violin Sonata (1968) has often seemed among the most forbidding of his later works and it is to these performers’ credit that the speculative dialogue of the opening Moderato feels not in the least arid……


Edward Bhesania, The Strad /

Young Montreal-born violinist Frédéric Bednarz and pianist Natsuki Hiratsuka make a strong impression in contrasting the late-Romantic style of early Szymanowski with the dark, sparse territory of late Shostakovich. Comparing the disc’s first and last tracks emphasizes the contrast. Szymanowski’s Allegro moderato has Romantic grandeur, which Bednarz conveys with flair..

In  Shostakovich’s slow, searching passacaglia, Bednarz maintains a sense of gravitas as well as enigma. Together with Hiratsuka, he creates a powerful atmosphere around the often arid soundscape. The second movement is a devil’s dance, here relatively unsneering but still effective, and technically assured.

Bednarz brings a gorgeous tone to Szymanowski’s lyrical slow movement, the high-lying writing drawing sustained sweetness. In this movement and the next, Hiratsuka’s neat handling of the often dense texture is key. The disc’s trayless digipack presentation means that there are scant notes on the works or artists, but the recording itself is clear……