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Roger Sessions: Music For Violin & Piano

Bowlin,David / Sessions,Roger / Holzman,David
Release Date: 08/11/2015 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9453   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Roger Sessions
Performer:  David BowlinDavid Holzman
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This new recording presents three major Sessions scores in stunningly virtuosic performances. A sonata in all but name, the Duo sees Sessions casting off the Stravinskian residue that had typified his earliest efforts. Rhythmically sturdy, the music provides something of a justification for the “American Brahms” moniker critics routinely applied to Sessions. The fiendishly difficult solo Sonata for Violin is in four interlinked movements. It is a “rhapsodic” (Sessions’s word) score, that is among the finest works in the solo violin literature. Sessions's masterful Second Sonata was completed in the days following World War 2. Andor Foldes, the commissioning pianist, reckoned the 2nd movement “almost Chopinesque,” while the finale, a Read more sardonic toccata, (Sessions called it “a goose step”) is a caricature of the Nazi Stormtroopers he had seen firsthand in Berlin. Though some of the contrasting music put Sessions in mind of the doleful-sounding foghorns in San Francisco Bay, the vehemence unleashed ultimately sweeps all else before it, topping off one of the most trenchant, dynamic piano works in the American literature. Read less

Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin solo by Roger Sessions
Performer:  David Bowlin (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953 
Sonata for Piano no 2 by Roger Sessions
Performer:  David Holzman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Duo for Violin and Piano by Roger Sessions
Performer:  David Bowlin (Violin), David Holzman (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Composer in transition December 4, 2015 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "For me, this release works on many levels. First, it chronicles an important phase of Roger Session's career when his style moved from neo-classical to embrace -- however lightly -- serialism. It also is an enjoyable listening experience, as pianist David Holzman and violinist David Bowlin perform together and separately, bring some variety to the program. And there's a mix of well-known important work and some (relatively) light occasional pieces that provide some emotional balance. The album opens with the 1942 Duo for violin and piano. It's a work cast in a single movement of continual contrast. While the piece is highly chromatic, Sessions never quite crosses over into atonality. By contrast, Sessions does cross that line in his Sonata for Violin written nine years later. It is indeed a twelve-tone work, but one that still borders on tonality. Bolin brings out the inherent lyricism in this sonata, smoothing out some of the spikiness of the piece, and showing just how close to line Sessions remains. According to the composer, Sessions' Second Piano Sonata was supposed to be "not only short by easy to play." I think he missed on both counts (the work's about 13 minutes long). Nevertheless, Holzman handles the dense, complex score with apparent ease. Two short piano pieces round out the program. The 1936 Waltz for Brenda is a delightful little piece written to commemorate the birth of a neighbor's child (who was writer Brenda Webster), and a 1947 Adagio given as a retirement gift to a colleague. The recording quality is very good, as are the performances. In fact, I really only had one quibble. This is a disc of solo and duo music for violin and piano. So why does the cover show Sessions conducting from a podium?" Report Abuse
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