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Outside / Aisha Orazbayeva

Lachenmann / Sciarrino / Ravel / Aisha Orazbayeva
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Nonclassical   Catalog #: 13  
Composer:  Salvatore SciarrinoMaurice RavelPeter Zinovieff
Performer:  Aisha Orazbayeva
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

OUTSIDE Aisha Orazbayeva (vn, voc); Matthew Shellhorn (pn); Peter Zinovieff (computer) NONCLASSICAL (53:31)

SCIARRINO 6 Solo Violin Caprices. RAVEL Violin Sonata: Allegretto. ZINOVIEFF/ORAZBAYEVA Computer Concerto, “OUR”: 5 Bagatelles. SALVADOR/TSEPIN Pchela I Babachka. Read more LACHENMANN Toccatina/Russian Song

Violinist Aisha Orazbayeva and pianist Peter Zinoveiff both recorded and produced their program, which consists of largely unfamiliar works. The first of these, six caprices for solo violin by Salvatore Sciarrino (from 1976), at 24-odd minutes, takes up almost half the recital. The First Caprice, Vivace , surrounds the violin’s skittish timbres with varying degrees of reverberation and what sounds like ambient noise (perhaps traffic or similar whooshing as well as fragments of speech) that Orazbayeva has made an integral part of this performance (with sounds integrated from a bus stop, a park, a car park, a warehouse, a railway arch, a tailor’s yard, and a flat). The violin’s tessitura remains high through the first two caprices, and close up miking reveals a great deal of what acousticians might describe as noise from the violin itself. The chirping Third Caprice, Assai agitato , threads melodic fragments, almost recognizable as such, through its stratospheric textures, while the Fourth, Volubile , again tied to the Third on one track, employs a series of scrapes, whistles, and other noises, so harsh that it could hardly claim to be The Whistler and His Dog transported into the late 20th century. The computer’s contribution to the ambiance becomes more clearly audible again at the beginning of the Fifth Caprice, Presto , while the Sixth starts out pizzicato. Those who have labored over Paganini’s or Ernst’s pizzicatos, for both left and right hand, might wonder whether what sounds like awkward rhythmic uncertainty in Orazbayeva’s reading might be intentional—and why; no notes illuminate any of these pieces or their performances. Carolin Widmann included the caprices in her collection of works for solo violin for Telos 116 ( Fanfare 34: 1) in a more straightforward version (without all the superimposed noises and without Nonclassical’s engineering stunts, for better or for worse) that will seem to many listeners in the end a much less exuberant spirit.

Maurice Ravel’s Violin Sonata, recorded at a lower level and at what seems to have been a greater distance, notoriously pits the two instruments against each other so that they only occasionally seem to be in phase and more than occasionally out of phase; that may be why Orazbayeva and Shellhorn chose only its first movement for the program. Still, their performance hardly seems to exaggerate the independence of the voices, and while their reading sounds more mellifluous than—and equally as allusive as—Joseph Szigeti’s with Carlo Bussotti, neither Orazbayeva nor Shellhorn files down the work’s corners.

The Five Bagatelles from “OUR,” a concerto for violin and computer from 2010 (Scu, Perc, Extreme Glissando, Peg , and Stre ), intriguingly (and genially) explore textural effects in a manner similar to tape-generated music I used to listen to in the 1960s (slides, pops, bubbles, and swoops, for example); the violin’s contribution to the whole hardly sounds soloistic in any traditional (or even non-traditional) sense. Pchela i Babchka presents a folk song, sung unaccompanied by Orazbayeva, while Helmut Lachenmann’s Toccatina/Russian Song begins with almost stray-seeming pizzicatos, and ends with another folk-like song, sung softly by the violinist and accompanied by rhythmic pizzicatos.

The performances, as well as the program, should appeal principally to the adventurous. Nonclassical, certainly, and perhaps entertaining, but then what might it be? “Outside” sums it up. Recommended to listeners ready to embark on a journey to lands unknown (for some, perhaps even after arrival) in a boat of not readily ascertainable seaworthiness—and posted with strong caveats to traditionalists.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Caprices (6) for Violin solo by Salvatore Sciarrino
Performer:  Aisha Orazbayeva (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; Italy 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Aisha Orazbayeva (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1927; France 
Bagatelles (5) from OUR by Peter Zinovieff
Performer:  Aisha Orazbayeva (Violin)
Notes: This work was written in collaboration with Aisha Orazbayeva. 

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