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Presenting Rachel Patrick

Ravel / Strauss / Korngold / Boren / Patrick
Release Date: 12/13/2011 
Label:  Enharmonic Records   Catalog #: 020  
Composer:  Maurice RavelErich Wolfgang KorngoldRichard Strauss
Performer:  Rachel PatrickBenjamin Boren
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Violin Sonata. KORNGOLD Much Ado about Nothing: Suite. R. STRAUSS Violin Sonata Rachel Patrick (vn); Benjamin Boren (pn) ENHARMONIC 11-020 (56:15)

Rachel Patrick and Benjamin Boren give an account of the first movement of Maurice Ravel’s Violin Sonata that initially pits Boren’s bright-toned, sharply articulated pianism against Patrick’s Read more slinkier, subtler playing of the violin’s highly contrasting part. But both instrumentalists explore the darker shadows of the movement’s central region, and Patrick plays with thick, full-throated richness as they emerge from it into the light. They’re as effective musically as Joseph Szigeti and Carlo Bussotti, although Patrick is considerably suaver tonally (Szigeti made his recording in 1953 when he sounded almost compromised, although that hardly affected the subtlety of his reading). In the slow movement, Patrick returns to the honey-like sound she produces, especially on the lower strings, but she’s as rhythmically vital as Szigeti in the pizzicato sections. If it’s a fairly straightforward reading metrically, it avoids caricature or mannerism; and if it’s not so frightening in its intensity as Szigeti’s, it’s nevertheless consistently sophisticated and energetic. The finale sounds more polite than does Szigeti’s but it builds to almost as imposing a conclusion. Altogether, Patrick’s and Boren’s reading stands with those of Dong-Suk Kang (Naxos 8.550276, reviewed by David K. Nelson in Fanfare 15:5), Viktoria Mullova (Onyx 4015, Fanfare 30:5), Maria Bachmann (Endeavor 1020, Fanfare 30:6), and Antje Weithaas (Cavi 8553123, Fanfare 32:4) as among worthy successors of Szigeti’s benchmark reading.

Patrick and Boren sharply characterize each of the four pieces in Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s suite from his incidental music to William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing . They’re skittish in the first (“Mädchen im Brautgemach”), strutting in “Holzapfel und Schlehwein,” tender in the “Gartenscene,” and bracing in “Mummenschanz.” And Patrick can deploy her sumptuous tone to advantage, unaffected by the sense of mystery in which she enveloped it—albeit to good effect—in Ravel’s sonata. Philippe Quint played the suite with orchestra on Naxos 8.570791( Fanfare 33:2), but Gil Shaham enjoys the partnership of André Previn as pianist on Deutsche Grammophon 439 886-2 ( Fanfare 18:3) but seems somehow less allusive; violinist Joseph Lin and pianist Benjamin Loeb seem even more arch in their characterizations, especially of the fast movements, on Naxos 8.557067, Fanfare 32: 3, though Lin’s doesn’t generally sound so lush tonally as does Patrick.

The first movement of Richard Strauss’s concerto-like sonata, calling for perhaps more strenuous tone production, reveals timbral strain in Patrick’s middle registers, perhaps due more to her instrument than to any shortcoming in her technique: She soars in the upper registers and sounds lush in the lower, as the preceding two works convincingly demonstrate. Nevertheless, she manages to convey the Allegro’s majestic sweep and to contrast it effectively with the main theme’s quieter restatements, and Boren matches her gesture for gesture. Their scaled-back, chamber-like interchanges at the end of the second movement sound both intimate and vibrant; they sound authoritative in the Finale. I’ve mentioned before how much Jascha Heifetz liked this sonata (two recorded performances: in 1934 with Arpad Sandor and in 1954 with Brooks Smith, and live, again with Smith in 1972). Recently, Catherine Manoukian gave a reading of the sonata (Marquis 81385, Fanfare 34:4) that captures some of Heifetz’s intensity. Patrick sounds by comparison more careful in articulation but less flexible and dynamic in her approach to Strauss’s sweeping rhetoric.

With a program of highly appealing works and an approach intelligently tailored to each, Rachel Patrick’s recital with Benjamin Boren deserves a strong recommendation, not only to collectors of these works (who should find them highly satisfying) or even to violin aficionados (who should be almost equally enthusiastic), but to more general listeners as well.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Rachel Patrick (Violin), Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1927; France 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat major, Op. 18 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Rachel Patrick (Violin), Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Germany 
Much Ado about Nothing, Op. 11: Suite by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Performer:  Rachel Patrick (Violin), Benjamin Boren (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1919; Vienna, Austria 

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