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Bolcom: Works For Violin And Piano / American Double


Release Date: 09/18/2007 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 959   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine FinehousePhilip Ficsor
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BOLCOM Violin Sonatas: No. 1; No. 2; No. 3, “Sonata Stramba”; No. 4. Sonatina. Duo Fantasy. Pastorale. Fancy Tales. Suite for Solo Violin. Ghost Rags: Graceful Ghost Rag • Philip Ficsor (vn); Constantine Finehouse (pn) • ALBANY 959 (2 CDs: 132:40)

Those readers who are not newcomers to Fanfare will know full well how difficult I find it to embrace much that passes for contemporary music. When I can respond as positively, therefore, as I have to all of the works on these CDs, you can know that there is something quite special about them. What is it? I’m not sure exactly. Perhaps it’s the sense of hearing something new and different that is nonetheless somehow rooted in the familiar. One does not feel cast adrift in strange seas
Read more or alien landscapes. Familiar signposts appear at every turn: a snatch of Beethoven here, a whiff of Mozart there, echoes of Ravel, Bartók, Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and jazz idioms.

Yet, as Philip Ficsor explained in our interview, these are not intentional or even conscious references on Bolcom’s part; they are intrinsic to his absorption of the totality of our musical culture and his assimilation by it. Even a work as “jarring and dissonant” as the Sonata for Solo Violin integrates its dissonance in a way that makes it sound necessary, essential, and a vital part of the work, as opposed to simply gratuitous and applied for shock effect. And not even a neo-Luddite, such as me, when it comes to modern music, could possibly fail to appreciate a piece with such clear Romantic roots as the First Sonata. All else falls on a continuum somewhere between these two works; but not one of them is of lesser quality, imagination, inspiration, or interest than another.

Recorded at the Kitchen Recording Studio in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, between June 2005 and December 2006, and released by Albany Records in September 2007, this two-CD set is indispensable to any serious collector with an interest in later 20th-century duo repertoire for violin and piano. It’s hard for me to imagine the amount of time, effort, and dedication that went into Ficsor’s and Finehouse’s collaboration. This is not music that anyone plays at first or even 10th sight. That these two artists can play it at all, let alone play it as astonishingly well as they do is truly remarkable. The fact that they do not call themselves the Ficsor and Finehouse Duo, but simply American Double, speaks volumes of the submerging of egos to the higher goal of advancing the cause of an important American composer to the fore of our cultural consciousness.

Everything about these CDs—the music, the performances, and the recorded sound—warrant the strongest recommendation.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; USA 
2.
Sonatina by William Bolcom
Performer:  Philip Ficsor (Violin), Constantine Finehouse (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
3.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956/1984; USA 
4.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 "Sonata Stramba" by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; Ann Arbor, Michigan 
5.
Duo Fantasy by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; USA 
6.
Pastorale by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; USA 
7.
Fancy Tales by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano), Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
8.
Suite for Violin solo by William Bolcom
Performer:  Philip Ficsor (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; USA 
9.
Ghost Rags (3): The Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom
Performer:  Constantine Finehouse (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970; USA 
10.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 4 by William Bolcom
Performer:  Philip Ficsor (Violin), Constantine Finehouse (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Double
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Sound Samples

Violin Sonata No. 2: I. Summer Dreams
Violin Sonata No. 2: II. Brutal, fast
Violin Sonata No. 2: III. Adagio
Violin Sonata No. 2: IV. In Memory of Joe Venuti
Violin Sonatina: I. Moderato
Violin Sonatina: II. Andante
Violin Sonatina: III. Allegro
Violin Sonata No. 1: I. Legend
Violin Sonata No. 1: II. Nocturne
Violin Sonata No. 1: III. Quasi-Variations: Scenes From a Young Life
Violin Sonata No. 3, "Sonata Stramba": I. A piacere, drammatico - Allegro con fuoco
Violin Sonata No. 3, "Sonata Stramba": II. Andante
Violin Sonata No. 3, "Sonata Stramba": III. Like a Shiver: Presto
Violin Sonata No. 3, "Sonata Stramba": IV. Moderato, risoluto, all' arabesca
Duo Fantasy
Pastorale: I. Allegretto grazioso
Pastorale: II. Variations: Moderato, poco cantabile, non espressivo
Pastorale: III. Coda: Adagio espressivo
Fancy Tales: I. The Phantom-Sweetheart
Fancy Tales: II. The Centaurs in Flight
Fancy Tales: III. The Dwarf's Serenade: Variations
Fancy Tales: IV. The Abandoned Ferryboat
Suite for Solo Violin: I. Bold, passionate
Suite for Solo Violin: II. Scherzando: Fast
Suite for Solo Violin: III. Valse obsedee
Suite for Solo Violin: IV. Not too slow
Suite for Solo Violin: V. Presto possibile
Graceful Ghost
Violin Sonata No. 4: I. Allegro brillante
Violin Sonata No. 4: II. White Night: Slow; Faster, nervous
Violin Sonata No. 4: III. Arabesque: Molto moderato
Violin Sonata No. 4: IV. Jota: Vivo, risoluto

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