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Suites & Sweets / Jessica Mathaes, Rodney Waters

Release Date: 05/26/2009 
Label:  Centaur Records   Catalog #: 2993   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Erich Wolfgang KorngoldMaurice RavelJules MassenetHenry Cowell,   ... 
Performer:  Rodney WatersJessica Mathaes
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Attractively done.

It’s a cute title. Jessica Mathaes and Rodney Waters have judged the temperature of the Cowell Suite nicely and bring assurance to its baroque-leaning violin legato, ensuring that the piano buffets this deceptive calm as nosily as it can. The lovely Handelian Andante tranquillo acts as the central movement of the five but it’s not long before the concentrated lyricism cultivated by the violin in the Andante calmato is assailed by the fractious, dogmatic and argumentative piano.
The rest of the programme enters, in market terms anyway, shark-infested waters. Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne is well balanced, and discreetly played. Mathaes, concertmaster of the Austin
Read more Symphony, reserves greater tonal edge for the Tarantella though a sprightlier tempo might have characterised things more graphically. This is a clean-limbed, spruce reading all round.
The Korngold Suite is similarly quite lightly played, not in any way seeking to reproduce – were it even possible – the voluptuary throb of the composer’s own recording with the molten Toscha Seidel. The duo is rhythmically upright and upholstered in Dogberry and Verges and is suitably chaste in the Garden Scene, the most famous movement, as they had earlier been in the Bridal scene; Seidel was positively lascivious here.
There are some well judged tempo decisions in the de Falla Canciones populares españolas. Once again the balance between instruments has been well attended to by the recording team. The performance is rather on the low-key side and lacks a certain sense of projection. These pieces are so well known that they need a bit of bite and whilst this is neat and enjoyable playing, you need only cite, say, Kogan’s live 1963 Moscow performance, to hear how the six pieces can come alluringly alive.

There are two ‘sweets’ and they are deftly but not over-warmly played.

If you’re searching for the Cowell you can try Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs ( Naxos 8.559192 – an all-Cowell chamber disc). But if you want it in the context of a chamber recital which lines up this disparate selection then you’ll find it most attractively done here.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International



SUITES AND SWEETS Jessica Mathaes (vn); Rodney Waters (pn) CENTAUR 2993 (64:08)

COWELL Suite. STRAVINSKY Suite Italienne. KORNGOLD Much Ado About Nothing: Suite. FALLA Suite populaire espagnole. RAVEL Pièce en forme de habanera. MASSENET Thaïs: Meditation

Jessica Mathaes, the youngest concertmaster ever appointed to the Austin Symphony, and a graduate of the very fine music school at Rice University, has created a delightful program that plays off nicely against the title, “sweets” referring easily to the last two pieces on the disc, while the others are “suites” proper, all serious music done in a sweet vein if you will, but substantive and very rewarding to listen to.

Henry Cowell’s work is not one that will send anybody screaming in terror out of the room, but is instead a beautifully crafted piece of exquisite proportions that echo Bach-like sentiments in the midst of tone clusters that sound, well, tonal. The Stravinsky will sound very familiar to almost all of Fanfare’s Serious Collectors as selections from his most popular neoclassical ballet, Pulcinella. Pergolesi, an almost forgotten composer who nonetheless fascinated Stravinsky, wrote music of direct appeal that inspired Stravinsky to write his ballet, a piece far better than Pergolesi ever deserved. Violinist Samuel Dushkin collaborated with the composer to create this suite.

I have always had a secret love of the music of Erich Wolfgang Korngold ever since I first heard the Leinsdorf recording of Die tote Stadt back in the 1970s. Oh, I knew about his film scores all right, but the opera was revelatory to me, still awaiting a recording (and video) to equal that old RCA. Much Ado About Nothing is an orchestral work (incidental music) created at the same time as that opera; the composer decided to try and save it (its premiere was derailed because of the Great War) through this suite, which allows any violinist to show off her emotional side.

The Falla work has been scored for several instruments; it’s a very popular piece that gets recycled ad infinitum. Likewise the Ravel, transcribed and recorded for almost every instrument imaginable. Mentioning the Massenet is almost superfluous at this point—everyone knows it, and most often loves it, though in the wrong hands it can become cloying; not in these hands.

In fact, of all the debut violin albums I have come across recently—and they come fast and furious—Mathaes is one of the few that has actually put thought into the program and is able to deliver the many varied styles required by this miscellany with a fluent ease and perspicacious affection that must surely be the envy of lesser artists on sometimes more fabled record labels. Her tone is alternately tender and muscular as needed, with an affinity for manner appropriate to each work that belies her young years. This breezy album will provide much pleasure from the tried and true that so often becomes tired and blue—use it to wake up those dormant ears.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Maiden in the Bridal Chamber by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Dogberry and Verges "March of the Sentinel" by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Garden Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Masquerade by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Pièce en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Jessica Mathaes (Violin), Rodney Waters (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Thaïs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Length: 4 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Suite for Violin and Piano by Henry Cowell
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; USA 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Suite italienne for Violin and Piano by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Length: 17 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Canciones populares españolas (7) by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Rodney Waters (Piano), Jessica Mathaes (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
Length: 12 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Paul Kochanski. 

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