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Sweet Remembrance / Rudens Turku, Yumiko Urabe

Turku / Urabe / Ysaye
Release Date: 04/10/2012 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2223  
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsFritz KreislerEugène YsaÿeJules Massenet,   ... 
Performer:  Rudens TurkuYumiko Urabe
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SWEET REMEMBRANCE Rudens Turku (vn); Yumiko Urabe (pn) AVIE 2223 (59:44)

PARADIS Sicilienne. WIENIAWSKI Mazurka. PAGANINI Cantabile. Moto perpetuo. La Campanella. SHOSTAKOVICH Preludium. ELGAR Salut d’amour. Read more class="COMPOSER12">MENDELSSOHN Sweet Remembrance. SARASATE Malagueña. MUSSORGSKY Hopak. KREISLER Schön Rosmarin. GLAZUNOV Meditation. BRAHMS “F-A-E” Sonata: Scherzo. MASSENET Thaïs: Meditation. YSAŸE Solo Violin Sonata No. 2

Violinist Rudens Turku draws from his instrument a tone that, like Zino Francescatti’s, exhibits a slightly acidic quality and a pleasant sort of electricity to pieces like Maria Theresia von Paradis’s Sicilienne, which used to appear with some regularity on recitals. He brings a witty rhythmic spring to Henri Wieniawski’s Mazurka that lifts his performance above a simply correct and richly resonant one. Paganini’s works include chamber pieces like the Cantabile as well as virtuoso showstoppers, and it’s easy to discern in them the kind of musicianship that must have impressed the performers and composers of his time, as well as both enlightened and unenlightened general listeners. But while it seems as though Turku has devoted his attention to the musical argument rather than to simply producing a lush sound, in large part he’s done that, too—aided by Avie’s engineers, who come close to him but also gather in the hall’s ambiance. Dmitri Shostakovich’s Preludium offers another kind of miniature, a highly spiced, crunchy little nut, in Turku’s reading.

Placing Edward Elgar’s Salut d’amour immediately after Shostakovich’s piece provides a contrast that’s so effective that it couldn’t have resulted from a random program order. Here, as elsewhere, Turku’s commanding eloquence and sumptuous tone never assume first importance; he never descends into bathos. His spiccato sounds crisp in Paganini’s famous Moto perpetuo , but those who have listened with reverential awe to Jascha Heifetz’s early performance—or to Michael Rabin’s, for that matter, both of which crackle with similar voltage—may find Turku’s performance more pleasant than galvanic, though his off-the-string bowings remain crisp throughout. There’s no sign of fatigue, and that’s something in itself. The eponymous number, Felix Mendelssohn’s Sweet Remembrance , in this case arranged by Heifetz and channeling his voice as well as Mendelssohn’s (and Turku’s), serves as a sort of trio featuring the composer and the two violinists (or perhaps a quartet, due to Yumiko Urabe’s sensitive accompaniment). Pablo Sarasate’s Malagueña smolders in Turku’s reading, but, as I’ve mentioned many times in earlier reviews, this darker quality seems more characteristic of performances by Sarasate’s followers than of those by Sarasate himself (he himself didn’t record this piece). Still, Turku manages to evoke the sense of exotic faraway places and earlier times, so what’s authenticity? His pizzicatos bristle and his cantilena soars, and perhaps that’s enough.

Nathan Milstein and Aaron Rosand used to play Modest Mussorgsky’s Hopak in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s transcription, but the arrangement Turku has adopted sounds equally vibrant, and that may be due as much to the violinist’s skill as to the transcriber’s ingenuity. Fritz Kreisler’s chestnut, Schön Rosmarin , sounds less Kreislerian in Turku’s reading than it might, and that’s not necessarily damning, since Mischa Elman, Joseph Szigeti, and Zino Francescatti, differing from each other as much as they do from Kreisler, all made the composer’s music very convincing indeed. That Turku doesn’t reach this level of personalization simply places him along violinists like Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, and Jascha Heifetz, who didn’t seem able to do it, either, at least for Kreisler. Alexander Glazunov’s Meditation may not have reached the same status as an encore piece as several of the others on the program, but Turku and Urabe play it sensitively and glowingly.

Turku sets sparks flying in Kreisler’s arrangement of Paganini’s La Campanella and proves that it can be just as effective as a short piece as in its setting as the finale of his Second Violin Concerto (it also appeared in his work for violin, orchestra, and chorus, Le Couvent du Mont St. Bernard ). Eugene Fodor gave the impression of enormous left-hand finger strength in this showpiece, and Turku equals that. Much of the effect he creates, in fact, seems to derive from strength rather than from sheer velocity, but it’s none the less effective. (Who’s knocking to simulate bells? Might it be Urabe? In any case, rapping and a small bell don’t sound very similar.) Johannes Brahms’s contribution to the “F-A-E” Sonata almost stands on its own, and it’s had to do so in many recital programs. Turku plays it with an intensity that gives it its own legs, and Urabe rises with him as an equal partner in an electrifying conclusion. The duo backs down in intensity for Jules Massenet’s paradigmatic bon-bon from Thaïs , to which they add no high-fructose corn sweetener, though their reading is warm enough.

Eugène Ysaÿe’s Second Solo Sonata, combining allusions to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Preludio from the Solo Violin Partita No. 3 and the Dies irae , may not seem a particularly sweet pill (even the song’s little bit of sugar seems to be missing from its chemistry). But, with its fire-and-brimstone finale, “Les Furies,” it brings the sonata to a boffo conclusion (even if Turku’s reading in general doesn’t quite reach the diabolic intensity of Ruggiero Ricci’s or perhaps Maxim Vengerov’s on EMI 7243 5 57384 2, Fanfare 26:4). Overall, he strongly accentuates—and articulates—the first movement’s double references and Bach-like passagework; he plays the second movement, “Malinconia,” atmospherically, with plenty of pauses for fog to descend; he builds the third movement’s Sarabande and variations to stunning intensity as the note values grow shorter and shorter; and he manages to summon, although occasionally with roughly guttural incantations, the Furies in the Allegro furioso.

It’s a shame that Turku feels obligated to strike, in his booklet interview, an almost repentant pose for having recorded this program. Analogies to the circus may not further my argument, but somebody once said that you won’t go broke giving the public what it wants. The public used to want this kind of program, and it’s hard to believe that in this age of soundbites they no longer do. And Turku just does it so well. Very strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Scherzo for Violin and Piano in C minor, WoO 2 "FAE Sonata" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Schön Rosmarin by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 2 in A minor by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Thaïs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Salut d'amour, Op. 12 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1889; England 
Sicilienne in E flat major by Maria Theresia Paradis
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: Austria 
Cantabile e Valtz in E major: Cantabile by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823 
Moto perpetuo for Violin and Orchestra in C major, Op. 11: Excerpt(s) by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835 
Songs without words, vol 1, Op. 19b: no 1, Andante con moto in E major "Sweet Remembrance" by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Germany 
Spanish Dances (2) for Violin and Piano, Op. 21: no 1, Malagueña by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878 
Concerto for Violin no 2 in B minor, Op. 7 "La Campanella": Excerpt(s) by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826 
Meditation for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 32 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Russia 
Sorochintsy fair: Hopak by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Rudens Turku (Violin), Yumiko Urabe (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 

Sound Samples

Salut d'amour
Moto Perpetuo
Sweet Remembrance
Schön Rosmarin
La Campanella
F-A-E Scherzo
Meditation from Thaïs
Sonata for solo violin No.2 in A minor: I. Obsession: Prélude (Poco vivace)
Sonata for solo violin No.2 in A minor: II. Malinconia (Poco lento)
Sonata for solo violin No.2 in A minor: III. Sarabande (Lento)
Sonata for solo violin No.2 in A minor: IV. Les Furies (Allegro furioso)

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