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Ysaÿe: Sonatas for Solo Violin
     

Ysaÿe: Sonatas for Solo Violin

by Thomas Zehetmair
 
Eugène Ysaÿe's six sonatas for solo violin are fearsome tests of a violinist's mettle and skill, yet they have fared well on record, with complete recordings from several first-rate, if not A-list, players, principally Leonidas Kavakos (Bis), Oscar Shumsky (Nimbus), and Lydia Mordkovich (Chandos). With his recording, Thomas Zehetmair

Overview

Eugène Ysaÿe's six sonatas for solo violin are fearsome tests of a violinist's mettle and skill, yet they have fared well on record, with complete recordings from several first-rate, if not A-list, players, principally Leonidas Kavakos (Bis), Oscar Shumsky (Nimbus), and Lydia Mordkovich (Chandos). With his recording, Thomas Zehetmair rises straight to the top of that list. Vigorous, incisive playing, matched with a flawless technique, marks the Austrian virtuoso's performance, and at many points, one is simply astonished at his deft handling of this famously knotty music. Ysaÿe, one of the greatest violinists to be born in the 19th century, was purportedly inspired to compose these sonatas after hearing his colleague Joseph Szigeti perform the solo violin music of Bach. Accordingly, Ysaÿe dedicated the First Sonata to Szigeti, following in the subsequent pieces with dedications to his contemporaries Jacques Thibaud, Georges Enescu, Fritz Kreisler, Mathieu Crickboom, and Manuel Quiroga. Tailored to the personality of each dedicatee, each piece became a musical portrait of sorts that draws on the profundity of Bach but also incorporates the virtuosity of Paganini and the late-Romantic harmonies of the 1920s. Add dashes of Gypsy and Spanish flavors, as well as quotations from Bach and Brahms, and the result is music that sparkles with invention and impresses with dazzling virtuoso displays. Zehetmair, who has already released his version of the Third Sonata ("Ballade") as a prelude to his recording of Heinz Holliger's Violin Concerto (ECM), provides just the kind of exuberant, spontaneous playing that this music requires, while displaying a prodigious, jaw-dropping technique. What a pleasure it is to have a complete set from him. ECM's sound is typically detailed yet resonant.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Jeremy Eichler
Always a thoughtful interpreter, Mr. Zehetmair rightly treats these works as more than just vapid showpieces. He brings out the music's modern edges, using subtle left-hand articulations and a kind of X-ray hearing to pick out unusual harmonies and jolting cross-rhythms that can otherwise remain buried beneath the torrents of notes.
Gramophone - Rob Cowan
As the ultimate thinking virtuoso, Zehetmair is an ideal interpreter of these pieces, delving between the notes, coaxing a wealth of colour, inflection and dynamic shading from each score, always with acute imagination.... The best possible showcase for some marvellous if still undervalued music.
The New Yorker - Russell Platt
[Zehetmair's] free use of slides and rubato has a palpable sense of spirituality and a jagged edge.
BBC Online - Andrew McGregor
I'm going to make this really simple. If you care about the violin, and value great musicianship, you need this disc..... It's a disc of the year without a shadow of a doubt, but more than that, I think it's one of the best violin records I've ever heard.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/28/2004
Label:
Ecm Records
UPC:
0028947268727
catalogNumber:
000303802
Rank:
205799

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