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Deconstructing The Wall / Gatto, Popovic

Gatto,Lorenzo / Popovic
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Fuga Libera   Catalog #: 565   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George EnescuBohuslav MartinuVasilije Mokranjac
Performer:  Lorenzo GattoMilos Popovic
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Georges Enescu’s Third Violin Sonata, written in the improvisatory Gypsy style, requires a manner like that of Isaac Stern, whose live performance of the work revealed to me its chameleon-like gestural expressivity (Stern’s roughly contemporaneous performance from January 11, 1967, rereleased in 1996 on Sony SMK 64 532, though rich tonally and dramatically compelling, doesn’t make quite so overwhelming an impression). Lorenzo Gatto and Milo? Popovi? provide the aural analog of Stern’s visual one, manipulating textures and subtle approaches to notes, as well as rhythmic figures, in a way that illuminates the fusion of the classical and folk-inspired traditions in the first movement and revealing the underlying melancholy in this Moderato Read more maliconico. In the haunting second movement, Gatto’s astringently reedy timbres and Popovi?’s sensitive, otherworldly piano collaboration provide a stylistic foil to the agitated dance-like and impassioned declamatory sections. The third movement, predominantly rhythmic, serves as a showcase for Gatto’s sharply articulated rhythmic gesticulations. While Gatto and Popovi? give the sonata’s ethnic elements their due, they don’t focus so closely on the trees that listeners might miss the forest. Leonidas Kavakos (ECM New Series 1824 B0001485, Fanfare 27:4), leaner in tone than Stern, still makes the work sound exotically ethnic, if not so gestural as the Old Master did. But listen to Enescu himself, for example, on Opus Kura, to hear a vitality perhaps even exceeding Stern’s in urgency; and Ida Haendel, in a 1980 live performance on DOREMI 7756 (24:1) played with an intensity that renders visual props unnecessary. On the whole, Gatto and Popovi? don’t burn with the scorching light of Stern’s, Enescu’s—or perhaps Haendel’s—performances; but, recorded with almost startling realism, they still vividly re-create the work’s Gypsy atmosphere.

Bohuslav Martin?’s Five Madrigal Stanzas, dedicated to Albert Einstein (Martin? served as a sort of colleague of the mathematician at Princeton as a visiting professor from 1948 to 1951), lighter and crisper, showcase the performers’ rhythmic incisiveness (at the second, fourth, and fifth movements’ core) as well as their unsentimental way with Martin?’s longer melodic lines (in the third movement). Vasilije Mokranjac’s Violin Sonata in G Minor, like Enescu’s sonata a more extended, dark work, buttresses the end of the program as Enescu’s did its opening. But in this case, Gatto and Popovi?, while playing with intense exotic sensibility, seem to have substituted lyricism for Enescu’s more heavily punctuated communication. The brief second movement (Scherzo), on the other hand, recalls in their performance Enescu’s dance-like moments, while the slow movement burns with a bright light. The finale, marked quasi toccata, displays its kinetic tendencies only sporadically—and the duo plays those sections with razor sharpness.

Gatto’s and Popovi?’s readings of the three works bind them together with an approach that’s strong-minded without grit, rhythmic without rigidity, and songful without softness. They should appeal to collectors for their atmospheric reading of Enescu’s sonata as well as to those exploring the area’s literature for violin and piano. Strongly recommended to these kinds of collectors, but with almost equal enthusiasm to more general ones as well.

-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE [11/2010]
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in A minor, Op. 25 by George Enescu
Performer:  Lorenzo Gatto (Violin), Milos Popovic (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Romania 
Venue:  Salle Ravenstein, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 24 Minutes 52 Secs. 
2. Madrigal Stanzas (5) for Violin and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
Performer:  Lorenzo Gatto (Violin), Milos Popovic (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Venue:  Salle Ravenstein, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 9 Minutes 38 Secs. 
3. Sonata for violin & piano in G minor by Vasilije Mokranjac
Performer:  Milos Popovic (Piano), Lorenzo Gatto (Violin)
Venue:  Salle Ravenstein, Brussels, Belgium 
Length: 22 Minutes 42 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25, "Dans le caractere populaire roumain": I. Moderato malinconico
Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25, "Dans le caractere populaire roumain": II. Andante sostenuto e misterioso
Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 25, "Dans le caractere populaire roumain": III. Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso
5 Madrigal Stanzas, H. 297: No. 1. Moderato
5 Madrigal Stanzas, H. 297: No. 2. Poco allegretto
5 Madrigal Stanzas, H. 297: No. 3. Andante moderato
5 Madrigal Stanzas, H. 297: No. 4. Scherzando: Poco allegro
5 Madrigal Stanzas, H. 297: No. 5. Poco allegro
Violin Sonata in G minor: I. Adagio grave - Allegro
Violin Sonata in G minor: II. Scherzo: Presto - Meno mosso - Tempo I: Scherzo
Violin Sonata in G minor: III. Adagio
Violin Sonata in G minor: IV. Allegro (quasi toccata)

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