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Bloch, Janacek, Shostakovich / Midori


Release Date: 10/08/2013 
Label:  Onyx   Catalog #: 4084   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichErnest BlochLeos Janácek
Performer:  Ozgur AydinMidori
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BLOCH Violin Sonata No. 2, “Poème mystique.” JANÁ?EK Violin Sonata. SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Sonata Midori (vn); Özgür Aydin (pn) ONYX 4084 (66:55)


Midori’s recital of 20th-century sonatas opens with perhaps the most tonally conservative of the program’s works (though not the earliest—Janá?ek’s Violin Sonata). Onyx’s engineers Read more have balanced the violin and piano, and placed both forward while managing to capture very little extraneous noise. Midori draws an almost ethereal tone from her 1734 Huberman Guarneri del Gesù, but she rises comfortably to the soaring climaxes about a third of the way through the one-movement work. Bloch considered converting to Roman Catholicism during the period in which he wrote the Sonata (1924) and it includes quotations of Gregorian chant, the serenity of which pervades the style of the work itself and that of the performance as well. Nevertheless, at moments like the one about half-way through the movement, which recalls the impassioned declamation of the improvisatory “Nigun” from his Suite Baal Shem , Midori draws a rich tonal beauty from her violin that seems more closely related at times to the composer’s rhapsodic Hebraic works than to any Gregorian models. Midori and Özgür Aydin synthesize both of these mystical elements in a musical statement that’s both powerful and subtle—and glowing tonally. Some listeners may feel that Midori has purchased beauty of tone at the expense of Hagai Shaham’s irresistible urgency and deeply moving ardor (with Arnon Erez on Hyperion CDA67439, which I reviewed in Fanfare 28: 6); but she succeeds nevertheless in communicating the Sonata’s interweaving of the senses of the eternal and the tribal.


Janá?ek’s Violin Sonata, written two years earlier than Bloch’s, represents a quantum leap expressively, no matter how rapt Bloch’s may seem to listeners, even though his language may not represent a corresponding quantum leap forward. Midori draws a consistently beautiful tone from her instrument, but she also manages to create strong—and sometimes, stark—contrasts with jarring subtlety in the first movement. If the Sonata’s harmonic language seems at times a bit diffuse, it’s still for the most part firmly rooted tonally and its expression, as in the second movement, “Ballada,” at times turns expressive in an almost traditional manner. The duo follows the composer into starker, more abrupt expressivity at the opening of the ensuing Allegretto , with Midori sacrificing only a modicum of the tonal beauty she displayed in the earlier movements to limn the movement’s gnomic elements—and those of the Finale as well. For those seeking an eloquent reading of the Sonata that tames its grotesquerie just a bit, Midori’s should be competitive in its own way with Gidon Kremer’s searing, feral account with Martha Argerich on Deutsche Grammophon 427 351, Fanfare 16:4, which can almost sound at times like an assault.


Shostakovich’s Violin Sonata represents a further step into darker territory, both tonally and expressively. Written early for violinist David Oistrakh’s 60th birthday, the work received a recording in 1969 from its dedicatee, accompanied by Sviatoslav Richter, on Mobile Fidelity MFCD 909 that captured its brusquerie, and even its occasional brutality, exploring the almost unremittingly dark corners of its first movement as well as the rude energy of its second. For those who might be repelled by the work’s searing, biting, darkly pessimistic musical message, Midori’s performance, less curt (notably in the second movement) but nevertheless compellingly expressive, might evoke a stronger sympathy. Midori and Aydin hardly disperse the Finale’s shadows, although they hardly explore its darkest corners with the bleakness that Oistrakh brought to it (that violinist must have shared and been shaped by Shostakovich’s experience of living on the vulnerable fringe of the Soviet regime). If Midori and Aydin aren’t pitch black, they’re dark gray; if they don’t limn a landscape absolutely devoid of daylight, they represent a forbidding one nonetheless.


It would be niggardly to withhold a recommendation from a collection so convincing in its own way, even if the last two of its performances don’t evoke the full terror of two nearly disturbing expressions of 20th-century Angst . Recommended principally to listeners not bent on exploring the extreme depths of expressionistic 20th-century despair in the last two works.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 134 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Ozgur Aydin (Piano), Midori (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; USSR 
Venue:  Köln, WDR Funkhaus, Klaus von Bismarck S 
Length: 30 Minutes 56 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 "Počme mystique" by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Midori (Violin), Ozgur Aydin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Venue:  Köln, WDR Funkhaus, Klaus von Bismarck S 
Length: 19 Minutes 59 Secs. 
3.
Sonata for Violin and Piano by Leos Janácek
Performer:  Ozgur Aydin (Piano), Midori (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1921; Brno, Czech Republic 
Venue:  Köln, WDR Funkhaus, Klaus von Bismarck S 
Length: 15 Minutes 27 Secs. 

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