Tag : Shostakovich

Fanfare (review) / SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO

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 play it as though it should have.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Violin Sonata, another work that seems to hesitate outside the canon without entering, displays a spiritual affinity for Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata in F Minor in the bleakness of its mood and in the bitter expostulations of its second movement. But Shostakovich’s sonata raises these emotional states to a higher power of expression. What sounds merely gloomy in Prokofiev’s work sounds desperate in Shostakovich’s; what sounds eerie in Prokofiev’s, terrifying in Shostakovich’s. David Oistrakh, the work’s dedicatee (what a birthday present!), didn’t soften the brutal impact the piece could make. Bednarz does, creating with Hiratsuka a kinder and gentler profile that might make it more accessible to general audiences (the elegance of Bednarz’s tone production perhaps makes that inevitable). But they haven’t violated its tough core, as their reading of the second movement shows. The final movement, a passacaglia (the same general form as the one the composer employed in his First Violin Concerto, but with an entirely different effect, although this movement also includes some moments of great nobility and even warmth), sounds ominously elegiac though not ponderous, and unsettled though resigned, in the duo’s reading. In Fanfare 26:5, I noted that although Ilya Grubert’s performance on Channel Classics 16398 conjured « a sonorous maelstrom in the Sonata’s second movement » it failed to capture « both the last measure of Oistrakh’s fervor and the caustic bite of his pessimism » (Mobile Fidelity 909) and in the Sonata’s last movement, just didn’t equal Oistrakh’s « depth of reflection. » Neither does the reading of Oistrakh’s own student, Lydia Mordkovich on Chandos 8988. And these reviews haunt me as I consider Bednarz’s and Hiratsuka’s case. Yet in Fanfare 30:2, I recognized the validity of Leila Josefowicz’s cogent yet very different realization of this dense and multifariously expressive work. How, then, do Bednarz and Hiratsuka measure up to this different standard? Bednarz sounds richer and loamier than does Josefowicz in the first movement, which he takes more than a minute slower (but the timing doesn’t tell the whole tale); he does so as well in the slow movement, but in that case, extra bite and energy enliven Josefowicz’s reading. The third movement differs in the two accounts, in part because of Josefowicz’s greater timbral edginess. Those who prefer a tonally more sumptuous reading, richer may prefer Bednarz’s version by about the same measure as those who lean to the eerily expressive may prefer Josefowicz’s.

With its clear recorded sound and its revelatory thoughtful performances, the duo’s release deserves a warm recommendation–especially, perhaps, for their ingratiating performance of Szymanowski’s sonata.

ZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO


The Wholenote Magazine (review) / SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO

Terry Robbins, The Wholenote Magazine / www.thewholenote.com

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 be a bit bigger emotional range in places – maybe more of a raw edge at times – but these are beautifully balanced and satisfying performances. The CD was recorded in McGill University’s Music Multimedia Room in Montreal, where Bednarz is a member of the Molinari String Quartet, the quartet in residence at the Montreal Conservatory.

SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO


Gramophone U.K. (review) / SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO

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 or the confrontational exchanges of the central Allegretto not lacking in textural clarity. Nor does the final Largo lose focus as it heads to its eloquent climax before returning to those fugitive gestures with which the work had begun.

Those who prefer to invest in these works as part of single-composer discs could well turn to Alina Ibragimova for the Szymanowski and Isabelle Faust for the Shostakovich. If the present coupling appeals, however, it should be acquired with confidence.

SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO


The Strad (review) / SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO

Edward Bhesania, The Strad / thestrad.com

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 yet spacious. A highly recommended release from an instinctive musical partnership.

SZYMANOWSKI & SHOSTAKOVICH, SONATAS FOR VIOLIN & PIANO


MiM-004

SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH
SONATAS FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO

Frédéric Bednarz, violin
Natsuki Hiratsuka, piano

Prévisualiser les modifications (s’ouvre dans une nouvelle fenêtre)

Karol Szymanowski Sonata for violin and piano op.9

1. Allegro moderato
2. Andantino tranquillo e dolce
3. Finale : Allegro molto, quasi presto

Dmitri Shostakovich Sonata for violin and piano op.134

1. Andante
2. Allegretto
3. Largo

53:58

SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH FANFARE REVIEW
SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH WHOLENOTE REVIEW
SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH GRAMOPHONE U.K. REVIEW
SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH THE STRAD REVIEW
SZYMANOWSKI / SHOSTAKOVICH LA SCENA MUSICALE REVIEW

Pdf Booklet : Web or print.

METIS ISLANDS MUSIC / Catalog number : MIM-004

Recorded April 5, 2012 (Szymanowski) and December 13, 2013 (Shostakovich) Music Multimedia Room (MMR), McGill University, Montreal, Sound engineer and mixing Brett Leonard Mastering Carl Talbot, Musicom Productions Design Claude Marc Bourget Produced by Frederic Bednarz

March 2014 © Metis Islands Music