Holiday Shop


WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Achron: Complete Suites For Violin And Piano / Hagai Shaham, Arnon Erez

Achron / Shaham / Erez
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67841   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai ShahamArnon Erez
Number of Discs: 2 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  
On sale! $21.98
CD:  $19.99
Back Order



Notes and Editorial Reviews



ACHRON Hebrew Melody. 2 Hebrew Pieces. Eli Zion. Prelude . Souvenir de Varsovie. Coquetterie. Serenade. Les Sylphides. Berceuse. Dance Improvisation. Scher. Märchen. Liebeswidmung. Canzonetta. 2 Stimmungen , op. 32. 2 Stimmungen , op. 36. 2 Pastels. Stempenyu Suite. Suites: No. 1, “En Style ancien”; No. 2; No. 3, “4 Tableaux fantastiques”; No. 4, “Suite bizarre, Cycles des rythmes.” Read more Children’s Suite. Pensée de Leopold Auer. La Romanesca Hagai Shaham (vn); Arnon Eresz (pn) HYPERION 67841 (2 CDs: 158:36)


Hyperion’s collection of works for violin and piano by composer and violinist Joseph Achron begins with three of his most popular pieces, the Hebrew Melody , and Two Hebrew Pieces, “Hebrew Dance” and “Hebrew Lullaby,” recorded by Jascha Heifetz in 1924 and 1922, respectively. Hagai Shaham sounds more relaxed than did Heifetz, whose plaintiveness in his recordings exhibited an edge that effectively heightened its expressivity. The ill-fated prodigy Josef Hassid also recorded the Melody , but he didn’t generate Heifetz’s electricity, either—and neither did Itzhak Perlman or Mischa Elman. Still, Shaham and Arnon Eresz play sensitively, and their performance stands with the best, though not with Heifetz’s. In the “Hebrew Dance,” Shaham strikes a bolder attitude, highlighting the introduction with confident, elegant portamentos and endowing the dance proper with gregarious and infectious verve and bringing it to a commanding conclusion. The “Hebrew Lullaby” provides a strong contrast to it in Shaham’s sinuous reading. Malcolm Miller’s notes identify Eli Zion as a transcription by Achron of a work for cello by Leo Zeitlin, based, in turn, upon a traditional melody. Shaham makes its double-stops sound sweetly consonant. Miller also identifies the Prelude, op. 13, as likely to be the piece that Achron’s theory teacher in St. Petersburg, Anatoly Liadov, particularly admired. The Souvenir de Varsovie provides a strong contrast—a salon-like miniature, virtuosic and as sprightly as Edward Elgar’s La Capricieuse , although Shaham doesn’t play it with the feathery tongue-in-cheek with which Heifetz (and, again, Hassid) dispatched the famous bon-bon. Perhaps Coquetterie would sound, well, more coquettish than it does in Shaham’s performance, with a tangier approach like that which either Heifetz or Fritz Kreisler brought to short pieces. Shaham seems more closely attuned to pieces like the Serenade with its sonorous fervor (or to the gently rocking Berceuse , to the jaunty Dance Improvisation , which Shaham energizes with slashing double-stops, or to the comparatively somber Liebeswidmung ), than to the Coquetterie (or the subsequent Les Sylphides or the arch Canzonetta ). Eresz plays the lively figuration underlying Scher with effervescent vivacity and creates a haunting byway for Shaham’s approach to melancholy in Märchen , which proceeds much along the same lines as does the earlier Hebrew Melody , combining as it does swirling figuration and ardent cantilena. Two pairs of Stimmungen (op. 32 and op. 36), only the last of them (the most harmonically nuanced) in a major key, effectively explore salon-like sensibilities in Shaham’s readings. The Pastels , dedicated to Efrem Zimbalist, a fellow violin student of Leopold Auer, belong, according to the notes, to the period of Jewish works; Shaham plays them sympathetically, both the plaintive first and the playful second.


With the performance of the Stempenyu Suite , the release switches to recordings Shaham made in 2009. His violin sounds perhaps marginally less acidulous, but his approach didn’t change greatly in the intervening 13 years. Miller considers the suite, written for a 1929 production of Sholem Aleichem’s play, as a reflection of the klezmer spirit in its three movements, the first evocative (“Stempenyu Plays”) and the last joyful (“Freilachs”). Shaham brings to the last an incisively virtuosic style perhaps even more carefully honed than anything he produced in the earlier recording sessions.


The second disc of Shaham’s and Eresz’s tribute consists mostly of four suites. The first of them, “En Style ancient,” begins with a Bach-like prelude; Miller likens it to Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, but Achron’s example sounds much more chromatic—and, at the same time, perhaps paradoxically, more Baroque. Shaham brings off the double-stopped Gavotte and the elegant Sicilienne with élan and aplomb, respectively. He sounds less secure technically in the brief but demanding Fughetta, but regains his composure in the quicksilver Gigue. Violinists might find this suite an attractive alternative to such works as Christian Sinding’s similar one, showpiece though it may have been for Heifetz and Perlman. The Second Suite also contains five movements, this time a stylish piece entitled “En Passant” leading to a zesty Minuet, perpetual-motion “Moulin,” reminiscent of the witty rondo from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Haffner” Serenade, in which Shaham gives the impression of maintaining evenness only with a struggle. A heartfelt Intermezzo and “Marionettes,” in which Shaham strikes pizzicato and staccato sparks, bring the work to a close. The Third Suite, titled “Quatre Tableaux fantastiques,” consists of four movements, each bearing a tempo designation as its title. Its second movement provides the piano with a more ostentatious introduction than do many of the individual movements in these suites, and Eresz provides a foil for Shaham’s timbrally rich tonal arches in the declamatory sections. The third movement, Largo e fantastico, darker and more exploratory, enters craggier harmonic territory than has anything preceding it on Hyperion’s program, while the fourth reverts to a sort of drawing-room elegance and animation. The Fourth Suite, “Cycle des rythmes,” brings together no fewer than nine of these kinds of pieces: “Étincelles,” “Quasi valse,” “Grâce,” “Terasses du palais,” “Grimaces,” “Galanterie,” “Pastorale,” “Moment dramatique,” and “Marche grotesque.” Perhaps it’s very difficult in such a diverse group of pieces to differentiate each style, and it may not be to Shaham’s discredit if some of the pastries in such a large assortment begin to taste similar (or might it be that some of the individual movements themselves, such as the “Terasses du palais,” lack the sharpest definition?). Perhaps, too, Achron, having adopted a more modern harmonic language in the work, hadn’t yet achieved a subtle command of it?


Heifetz (who also studied with Leopold Auer and who employed Joseph’s brother, Isidor, as his accompanist for a time) transcribed eight of the pieces from Achron’s Suite, op. 57, for piano, in which, according to Miller, he attempted an integration, similar to Béla Bartók’s, of folk elements into his musical language. Its eight movements, “Jumping with Tongue Out,” “Sleep, My Puppy,” “Birdies,” “March of Toys,” “Mamma, Tell a Fairy Tale,” “The Top,” “The Caravan,” and “Parade with Presents,” also traverse a widely ranging pictorial landscape, and the pieces are more firmly tonal, yet sometimes emphasize the graphic element rather than the purely musical one (as in “Birdies” or “The Top”) often with literal, almost mechanistic, repetitions. Achron’s tribute to his teacher, Auer, takes the form of a waltz, but a technically more demanding one than, say, Valse bluette , a popular miniature by Riccardo Drigo that Heifetz and Auer had arranged for violin. Shaham plays Achron’s number with a minimum of sentimentality. La Romanesca , as Miller points out, bears a connection to Franz Liszt but derives from a 16th-century Spanish melody. Shaham endows it with a rich valedictory bouquet.


Shaham recorded the items from the first ( Hebrew Melody ) through the Two Pastels in 1996 for Biddulph, which released them as LAW 021, which I recommended generally in Fanfare 20:6. The rest of the recordings took place in 2009. For those who wish to explore Achron’s œuvre less extensively, the collection by Ingolf Turban (Hännsler 98.438, which, in addition to 11 of Nicolo Paganini’s caprices in Achron’s adrenaline-laced arrangements, also includes the Suite bizarre , the two Pastels , and Pensée de L. Auer, Fanfare 27:5) may be sufficient; many may feel that Turban sounds a bit more mannered in the overlapping repertoire, while others may find his arch, sharply pointed rhythms stylish. But those who seek to know the composer’s works for violin and piano more intimately will find them (without the sonatas) in Shaham’s compendious collection. Recommended primarily for the latter kinds of collectors.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Suite in an Old Style no 1 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Poland 
2.
Suite bizarre, Op. 41 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1917; Russia 
3.
Stempenyu Suite by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929 
4.
Songs (2), Op. 52: no 2, Dreaming Lights by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Russia 
5.
Scher, Op. 42 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916 
6.
Pensée de L. Auer by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
7.
Pastels (2), Op. 44 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Russia 
8.
Märchen, Op. 46 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; Russia 
9.
Liebeswidmung, Op. 51 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; Russia 
10.
La Romanesca by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Poland 
11.
Hebrew Pieces (2), Op. 35: no 2, Lullaby by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Poland 
12.
Hebrew Pieces (2), Op. 35: no 1, Sher by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Poland 
13.
Hebrew Melody for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 33 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Poland 
14.
Dance Improvisation for Violin and Piano, Op. 37 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; Russia 
15.
Children's Suite, Op. 57 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; Poland 
16.
Stimmungen (2), Op. 32 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
17.
Stimmungen (2), Op. 36 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
18.
Suite no 2, Op. 22 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
19.
Suite no 3, Op. 23 "Quatre Tableaux fantastiques" by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
20.
Berceuse, Op. 20 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
21.
Les sylphides, Op. 18 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
22.
Serenade, Op. 17 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
23.
Coquetterie, Op. 15 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
24.
Souvenir de Varsovie, Op. 14 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
25.
Prelude, Op. 13 by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
26.
Eli Zion by Joseph Achron
Performer:  Hagai Shaham (Violin), Arnon Erez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In