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Bolcom: Sonatas For Violin & Piano / Lewin-muresanu Duo


Release Date: 11/27/2007 
Label:  Centaur Records   Catalog #: 2910   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina MuresanuMichael Lewin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

I touched on the wide stylistic gamut and nearly half-century of compositional activity of William Bolcom's four violin sonatas in my review of the cycle's first integral recording (type Q9749 in Search Reviews). Although Bolcom himself annotated and rightfully endorsed the Soroka/Greene duo's excellent performances, violinist Irina Muresanu and pianist Michael Lewin offer formidable, and at times superior competition to the Naxos edition.

Compared to the latter's richly detailed, close-up sonic perspective, producer Joseph Patrych achieves a mellower, less "in your face" ambience that suggests an intimate chamber music venue. Perhaps this factors into the more texturally transparent and finely nuanced impression
Read more conveyed by the generally faster tempos that Muresanu and Lewin favor. For example, the hushed imitative writing in the middle of the First sonata's central Nocturne movement alluringly shimmers here, while Muresanu's more consistently even tone and uniform phrasing in the third movement's lyrical episodes address Bolcom's "semplice" request more effortlessly than does Solomia Soroka's heavier touch.

Muresanu's portamentos and accents also prove more idiomatic in the Second sonata's finale (dedicated to the memory of jazz violin great Joe Venuti), if not quite with Maria Bachmann's flair or Sergiu Luca's unbridled joy with the composer digging into the keyboard (when will this Nonesuch recording make it to CD?).

There's something to be said for the Naxos team's starker, weightier drama in the Third sonata's outer movements, yet the Centaur duo's brisker, quieter execution best conveys the third movement's "shivering" directive. Because Muresanu and Lewin take trouble to distinguish the Andante's carefully varied articulations and phrase groupings, you really notice how the violin and piano parts intertwine.

Both Fourth sonata performances are excellent, and are different enough in detail to make a clear-cut preference difficult. Soroka and Greene boast the incisive edge in the first movement, make more of the second movement's volatile tempo changes and dynamic contrasts, and truly observe the third movement's melody/"drumbeat" call-and-response narrative to Bolcom's "inexorable" specification (Lewin falls into an "espressivo" bag once or twice when making decrescendos). At the same time, Muresanu and Lewin achieve amazingly flexible unanimity in the second movement's Grazioso section. A bonus track in the form of Bolcom's 1983 concert variation on his piano rag Graceful Ghost brings this program to a sensitive and memorable close.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina Muresanu (Violin), Michael Lewin (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1984; USA 
2. Ghost Rags (3): The Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina Muresanu (Violin), Michael Lewin (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
3. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina Muresanu (Violin), Michael Lewin (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; USA 
4. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 "Sonata Stramba" by William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina Muresanu (Violin), Michael Lewin (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; Ann Arbor, Michigan 
5. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 4 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Irina Muresanu (Violin), Michael Lewin (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lewin-Muresanu Duo
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; Ann Arbor, Michigan 

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