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All American Album - Corigliano, Copland, Dello Joio

Release Date: 03/27/2007 
Label:  Artek   Catalog #: 35   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  John CoriglianoAaron CoplandNorman Dello Joio
Performer:  Elmar OliveiraRobert Koenig
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata. COPLAND Violin Sonata. DELLO JOIO Variations and Capriccio Elmar Oliveira (vn); Robert Koenig (pn) ARTEK 35 (54:00)

John Corigliano wrote his Violin Sonata with his parents in mind (Corigliano’s father served as concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic and his mother played the piano). His lifelong exposure to the violin is apparent from such disparate Read more elements as the first measures of the opening Allegro and the Andante’s singing theme and later leaping passages. Elmar Oliveira, playing the 1729–30 Stretton Guarneri del Gesù, commands attention both technically and tonally in this idiomatic work. The double-stops at the beginning of the work, for example, crackle like lightning, flashing in the upper registers. He employs portamentos sparingly but each time to great effect. The Lento draws upon a more rhetorical expressive manner; Oliveira’s soliloquy in the middle section displays both his own tonal eloquence and that of his instrument. His reading of the finale is jaunty and quicksilver. Robert Koenig complements Oliveira’s sensitivity in the slow movements and his virtuosity in the finale. The engineers at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase captured both instruments up close at the recording session on May 10, 2006, providing a colorful tonal portrait of both.

Aaron Copland’s Sonata, written during WW II, has had two decades more than Corigliano’s to work its way into violinists’ repertoire. The more somber first movement, intensified in the slow second, lead to a finale full of the composer’s typical nose-thumbingly offbeat rhythmic play, but it, too, turns serious. If Oliveira doesn’t play with Isaac Stern’s raw energy (with the composer at the piano, issued in Sony’s “A Life in Music” series, SONY 64 533), he’s clean and incisive throughout, with an appropriate hint of nostalgia.

Norman Dello Joio’s Variations and Capriccio , beginning with a theme and six variations followed by a Capriccio that opens and closes on a note of thoughtful lyricism, makes an accessible and relatively cheerful companion piece to the two sonatas, each of which apparently recounts some painful autobiographical elements. The variations range from the skittish second to the more solemn third and sixth. Oliveira and Koenig play Dello Joio’s piece with a straightforward energy and lean tonal beauty similar to those they achieved in their readings of the other works on the program.

The spanking cleanliness of Oliveira’s readings may motivate some listeners to seek loamier readings of Corigliano’s Sonata, perhaps in a more highly nuanced performance from Joshua Bell (or brighter ones, like that by Glen Dicterow, on Cala 514). Anne Akiko Meyers gave a performance of Copland’s Sonata in which the more reflective earlier movements didn’t succeed in their way as did her incisive playing in the last movement on RCA Victor Red Seal 68114. Stern and Copland still offer strong, authoritative competition (when Stern is playing unaccompanied at the beginning of the last movement, for example, his jagged fragments sound like Copland rather than simple impudence). Oliveira’s program should still appeal to collectors of Americana and to those who have followed his career. Recommended, not only to them, but more generally as a program of 20th-century American works not often encountered in a single program.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano by John Corigliano
Performer:  Elmar Oliveira (Violin), Robert Koenig (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/10/2006 
Venue:  Performing Arts Center, SUNY, Purchase, 
Length: 21 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland
Performer:  Elmar Oliveira (Violin), Robert Koenig (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/10/2006 
Venue:  Performing Arts Center, SUNY, Purchase, 
Length: 18 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Variations and Capriccio for Violin and Piano by Norman Dello Joio
Performer:  Robert Koenig (Piano), Elmar Oliveira (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/10/2006 
Venue:  Performing Arts Center, SUNY, Purchase, 
Length: 13 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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