Stravinsky: Duo Concertant; Divertimento; Lukas Foss: String Quartet No. 1

Stravinsky: Duo Concertant; Divertimento; Lukas Foss: String Quartet No. 1

by Eudice Shapiro

CD

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Overview

Stravinsky: Duo Concertant; Divertimento; Lukas Foss: String Quartet No. 1

Violinist Eudice Shapiro was a major force in Los Angeles from the '40s on up until her death in 2007; while she made a considerable number of recordings between the 1950s and 1970s, relatively few of them have appeared on CD. Crystal Records' limited-edition release Eudice Shapiro, Violin is the second devoted to her artistry, and features her with accompanist Brooks Smith in the "Duo Concertante" and "Divertimento" of Stravinsky and in Lukas Foss' "String Quartet No. 1" in her role as first violinist with the American Art Quartet. The Stravinsky recordings come from the only purely classical record issued by Fred Astaire's short-lived label Ava, which was in business just two years. Shapiro worked very closely with Stravinsky himself as a member of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, which he conducted on occasion, and her mastery of his preferred violin sound -- an acrid, woody, nearly folk-like style of performance -- is in clear evidence here. These are not perfect recordings -- esteemed accompanist Brooks Smith seems to get a little tangled up in the first movement of the "Duo Concertante" at one point -- but they are very characteristic ones, and the "Divertimento" is often superb with its very fine grasp of Stravinsky's light, dancing yet uneven rhythms. Foss' "String Quartet No. 1" is early (1947) and this 1960 performance by the American Art Quartet -- a group that specialized in contemporary music, which disbanded with the death of cellist and Shapiro's husband Victor Gottlieb in 1963 -- serves well to remind us what a terrific composer Foss is. While this is a bit grayer in tone than his contemporaneous, and better known, cantata "The Song of Songs," the evolution of the single-movement quartet is very natural and flowing, the result of an obviously hard-won undertaking, and the American Art's performance is as loving and respectful as it would be if it were Brahms. The recording quality has its shortcomings; very occasionally in the Ava-recorded selections, it's clear this is taken from vinyl owing to ticks; the Columbia Masterworks recording of the Foss is of the same grainy, monochromatic fidelity that typifies virtually every mono recording it made in the 1950s. Nevertheless, collectors of modern music from the LP era will find this highly satisfactory, and from the standpoint of making accessible the highly artistic eloquence -- and elegance -- of Eudice Shapiro, this is just about definitive.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/21/2008
Label: Crystal Records
UPC: 0009414783622
catalogNumber: 836

Tracks

  1. Duo Concertante, for violin & piano
  2. Divertimento, transcription for violin & piano by Stravinsky & Samuel Dushkin (after The Fairy's Kiss)
  3. String Quartet No. 1

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