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Hammer & Bow - Piazzolla, Etc / Israelievitch Duo, Et Al

Release Date: 07/25/2006 
Label:  Fleur De Son   Catalog #: 57972   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Astor PiazzollaChristian WoehrRaymond LuedekePierre Métral,   ... 
Performer:  Jacques IsraelievitchMichael Israelievitch
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PIAZZOLA L’histoire du tango. WOEHR Djembach. LUEDEKE Ah, Matsushima! 1 MÉTRAL Sonatine No. 1. GLICK A Night at Heaven’s Gate 2 Jacques Israelievitch (vn); Michael Israelievitch (perc); Measha Brueggergosman (narr); 1 Winona Read more Zelenka (vc) 2 FLEUR DE SON 57972 (65:45)

Jacques and Michael Israelievitch are father and son, and they play with a deep ensemble empathy that mirrors the familial bond. “Hammer & Bow” is a beautifully performed and recorded disc, and my only criticism will have to do with the music itself.

All the music, by the way, is well made and entertaining. Things get off to a rollicking start with the Piazzola, which is an arrangement of his much-played suite; the Israelievitches play it at a very rapid clip, which might not be to my taste interpretively, but does show off their virtuosity and sets the pace for the program. The 1997 Djembach by Christian Woehr (b. 1951) is a neo-Baroque suite for viola and percussion, the latter mostly djembe, which is an African drum. It’s a nice concept, and I suspect it works great in concert as a novelty piece, but on disc, its limitations become too evident. The suite, Ah, Matsushima! by Raymond Luedeke (b. 1944), is based on classic Japanese haiku, which are recited by a narrator before each respective movement. The work is concentrated in its materials, and probably the most substantive on the program. I liked its Bartókian aspects, i.e., a finely wrought use of motive, modal harmonic underpinnings, and a rhythmic sense that can range from almost static to intensely pulsed.

Pierre Métral (1936–96) was the timpanist of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and his 1965 Sonatine is a modest essay in the interplay between the continuously singing line of the violin, and the punctuations of unpitched percussion. The relationship always seems a little too weighted in the violin’s favor, in that it stands out so in the foreground, but there are moments of ingenuity and even pathos in the work, especially the third movement Elégie, whose cymbals and gongs create a mysterious aura around the violin. A Night at Heaven’s Gate , composed in 2000 by Srul Irving Glick (1934–2002), is subtitled a “Klezmer Rhapsody,” but it’s a little too proper for my tastes, seeming more of the salon than the shtetl. I’d go to Paul Schoenfeld, Osvaldo Golijov, or even Don Byron to find something more grittily close to the source.

As said above, there’s nothing wrong with any of this music, but I feel only the Luedeke strives toward, and achieves, a real poetic intensity. I note that the duo has a work written for them by Michael Colgrass (recorded on an earlier Fleur de Son CD), and that Jacques has premiered a large concerto by R. Murray Schafer. These are two composers I’d love to hear on a program by this duo, and there are many other wonderful ones out there with works for this instrumentation (especially when it’s violin and marimba). Since this pair plays so well, I look forward to the next release, in hopes for repertoire that, while it remains deeply musical, challenges us listeners more.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

History of the Tango: Bordel 1900 by Astor Piazzolla
Performer:  Jacques Israelievitch (Violin), Michael Israelievitch (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 
Djembach by Christian Woehr
Performer:  Jacques Israelievitch (Violin), Michael Israelievitch (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 
Ah Matsushima! by Raymond Luedeke
Performer:  Jacques Israelievitch (Violin), Michael Israelievitch (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 
Sonatine for violin and percussion no 1 by Pierre Métral
Performer:  Jacques Israelievitch (Violin), Michael Israelievitch (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 
A Night at Heaven's Gate by Srul Irving Glick
Performer:  Jacques Israelievitch (Violin), Michael Israelievitch (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 

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