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Works For Violin Solo By J. S. Bach & Ysaye

Bach,J.s. / Ferschtman
Release Date: 04/13/2010 
Label:  Challenge   Catalog #: 72351   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Eugčne Ysa˙eJohann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Liza Ferschtman
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

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BACH Solo Violin Sonata No. 1. Solo Violin Partita No. 3. YSAźE Solo Violin Sonatas: No. 1; No. 2 Liza Ferschtman (vn) CHALLENGE 72351 (SACD: 65:15)


Eugène Ysaÿe’s solo sonatas may not be the 20th century’s Read more definitive answer to Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas, but they’ve moved closer to the center of the violin’s repertoire during the last several decades. Els de Boer’s notes to Liza Ferschtman’s compilation of two works from each set of six traces the connections between Bach’s and Ysaÿe’s first sonatas and Ysaÿe’s Second Sonata and Bach’s Third Partita. In the first case, Ysaÿe’s First Sonata, perhaps the most Bach-like of the set in its structure, mirrors the Master’s work, although as through a trick mirror, while Ysaÿe’s Second Sonata actually quotes Bach’s Third Partita in its first movement (the other of the movement’s principal motives, the Dies irae , waxes as Bach’s passagework wanes through the rest of the sonata).


Ferschtman plays the opening Adagio from Bach’s First Solo Sonata freely; rhythmic nuances join timbral and melodic ones in her reading. She tends, for example, to play ornamental groups of notes faster, imparting to them an additional brilliance that enhances the musical argument. Her reading of the Fuga hardly suggests what scholars used to call terraced dynamics: She allows motives within measures to rise and fall; her arpeggiation of the chords written as blocks imparts to those passages an abandon that usually surfaces most prominently in performances of the Chaconne. She doesn’t linger over the Siciliana’s dialogue, although, as in the Adagio, she plays with a rhythmic freedom that stamps her performance of the whole sonata with an unmistakable individuality. And while she makes of the final movement more than a Presto in name only, the speed never precludes rhythmic play of accents (I’ve heard violinists suggest that such alternation of meters runs contrary to the spirit of the movement).


The contrast between her playing in Bach’s sonata and Ysaÿe’s could hardly be greater: With prominent, scooping portamentos, she limns the Grave’s rhapsodic personality; her sul ponticello with accompanying pizzicatos toward the end sound eerily haunting. Her reading of the Fugato ends with sweeping authority; and her playing in the third movement, Allegretto poco scherzando —especially the first section—points up whatever similarity might exist between it and the Siciliana from Bach’s sonata (perhaps this connection explains her archness and relatively rapid tempo in that movement). The weight and power of her reading of the finale seem almost overwhelming.


Whatever individuality she displayed in Bach’s First Sonata, she plays the Third Partita’s popular Preludio with greater regularity—while organizing phrases into chunks, ostensibly to emphasize contrasts between them. Nevertheless, her phrasing never sounds square, and her facility keeps the movement fluid. At her tempo, the Loure seems playful—and even a bit coy—a piquancy that her playing of the Gavotte en Rondeau shares (and the stray short appoggiatura in the following Menuets suggests—if the rest of the performance already didn’t—that she’s no slavish follower of hidebound period practitioners). She plays the last two movements, Bourré and Gigue, with headlong dynamism (once again, however, allowing for vibrant rhythmic ingenuity (at tempos like these, the final two movements bring the partita to a close worthy of her playing in the Preludio).


Although Ysaÿe quoted Bach at the opening of his Second Sonata, the dynamics and articulation make it seem like more than a simple direct citation, and Ferschtman makes the necessary adjustment. But the fluency of her arpeggios at the end and the gripping strength of her tone make the movement’s conclusion quite another thing, with the Dies irae sounding downright menacing (as perhaps it should). The second movement, “Malinconia,” provides opportunities for subtler dynamic nuances, which Ferschtman provides. The third movement, however, nominally a “Dance of the Shadows,” spans a wide range through its variations in progressively shorter note values that amount to a sort of rhythmic crescendo. But Ferschtman makes more than a mechanical attempt to build the movement’s arch, taking time to characterize each variation along the way. And, as in Aaron Rosand’s performance, the finale is pure fire and brimstone in hers.


For readings of each of the works that come close to the top, for its realistic recorded sound (even in the CD version that I reviewed), for the integration of the program musically and intellectually, the disc deserves an urgent commendation.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 1 in G minor "Fugato" by Eugčne Ysa˙e
Performer:  Liza Ferschtman (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium 
Length: 19 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2. Sonata (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 2 in A minor - 1st movement, Obsession by Eugčne Ysa˙e
Performer:  Liza Ferschtman (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium 
Length: 13 Minutes 4 Secs. 
3. Sonata for Violin solo no 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Liza Ferschtman (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium 
Length: 15 Minutes 25 Secs. 
4. Partita for Violin solo no 3 in E major, BWV 1006 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Liza Ferschtman (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Galaxy Studios, Mol, Belgium 
Length: 12 Minutes 6 Secs. 

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