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Ravel: Chamber Works For Violin / Rozhdestvensky, Marfurt, Kanka

Ravel / Rozhdestvensky / Kanka / Marfurt
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 250286   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Sasha RozhdestvenskyJosiane MarfurtMichal Kanka
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

RAVEL Tzigane . Violin Sonata. Berceuse . Sonata for Violin and Cello. Pièce en forme de Habanera. Sonate posthume Sasha Rozhdestvensky (vn); Michal Ka?ka (vc); Josiane Marfurt (pn) PRAGA 250 286 (SACD: 65:48)

Sasha Rozhdestvensky’s recital of Maurice Ravel’s chamber works for violin proceeds roughly in reverse chronological order, opening with Read more style="font-style:italic">Tzigane in a performance that brings vividly to life the work’s eponymous Gypsy improvisatory ethos in the cadenza and a diaphanously shimmering elusiveness in the ensuing fast section. Zino Francescatti made the piece sound French, Oistrakh made it feel palpably solid, and Heifetz dashing, but hardly anyone has evoked so successfully as does Rozhdestvensky the spirit of the campfire—and his final half page sounds simply breathtaking. It’s intriguing to speculate on how Jelly d’Aranyi might have improvised on the night when Ravel listened to and drew inspiration from her. Might she have sounded like this?

Rozhdestvensky and Marfurt take the opening movement of the Violin Sonata at a good clip, yet without sacrificing any detail; their reading matches Joseph Szigeti’s with Carlo Bussotti from 1953, but, of course, enjoys the benefits of far more faithful recorded sound. Then, too, Szigeti suffered, at the time of his recording, from faulty tone production. If Rozhdestvensky falls short of achieving the macabre effect of Szigeti’s tremolo passage, that may be due in part to the tempo he adopts, which hardly allows him to linger for effect. In the second movement, a correspondingly quicker tempo takes perhaps a greater toll, preventing the leisurely (then ferocious) slinking that makes Szigeti’s performance so fascinating. Rozhdestvensky moves the perpetual-motion finale again at a fast clip, this time, however, preserving almost all of the detail. Still, might it sound more impudent at a slower tempo?

Rozhdestvensky points the two-and-a-half-minute (exactly) Berceuse with stronger accentuation than did some older violinists like Nathan Milstein, in comparison to whose reading Rozhdestvensky’s sounds almost mannered, though Marfurt keeps it fey and transparent. A similar transparency marks Rozhdestvensky’s performance, with Michal Ka?ka, of the Sonata for Violin and Cello, especially in its first movement, while a hushed yet piquant reserve marks their reading of the second. They’re even more allusive in the third, an effect they achieve with a minimum of expressive technical devices, such as portamento, which they employ sparingly. The finale—especially the sections making reference to its opening theme—sounds especially robust in this dynamically more subdued context.

Rozhdestvensky interpolates a reading of the Pièce en forme de habanera that, as did the Berceuse , bears the weight of somewhat heavy accentuation but still manages to sound by turns smolderingly suggestive and quicksilver, before launching into the final work, the posthumous sonata from 1897, his performance of which sounds less abstract and more directly engaging, less spare and more lush, and less transparent and more rhapsodic—and overall highly ingratiating.

Renaud Capuçon included the Violin Sonata, the Sonate posthume , and the Sonata for Violin and Cello in his collection of Ravel’s chamber music for violin (Virgin 7243 5 45492 2, Fanfare 29:6). Playing the Violin and Cello Sonata with his brother, Gautier, he creates an even crisper sense of electricity in the last movement, but he includes the Piano Trio instead of the Habanera, Berceuse , and Tzigane , so the two programs, prima facie of the same repertoire, vary considerably in their makeup. Despite the rather quick tempos Rozhdestvensky and Marfurt take in the Violin Sonata, those who admire these works should find Rozhdestvesky’s program stimulating and consistently interesting, and Marfurt’s partnership highly appealing.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 9 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Josiane Marfurt (Piano), Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923-1927; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 16 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Berceuse sur le nom de Fauré by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Cello by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Michal Kanka (Cello), Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1922; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 18 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Vocalise en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Josiane Marfurt (Piano), Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 3 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Sonata Posthume for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Sasha Rozhdestvensky (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897; France 
Venue:  Prague Conservatory 
Length: 13 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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