NADIA REISENBERG AND ERICK FRIEDMAN IN PERFORMANCE AND CONVERSATION • Erick Friedman (vn); Nadia Reisenberg (pn) • ROMÉO 7295/6 (2 CDs: 133:04) Live: New York 10/11/1977
BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 3. R. STRAUSS Violin Sonata. BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata No. 9, “Kreutzer.” TCHEREPNIN Read more class="ARIAL12b">Elegy &
& Nadia Reisenberg and Erick Friedman on The Listening Room, 9/27/1977
These discs document the first duo recital by Nadia Reisenberg and Erick Friedman. In spite of the relative brevity of their association at this time, they sound as if they have been playing together for years—so complete are their realization of the music and the blend of their personalities. As Reisenberg’s son Robert Sherman writes in the album notes, Friedman’s “energy and excitement somehow galvanized Mother, even as her musical wisdom helped soften and shape his chamber playing.” Indeed, Friedman plays here with a sophistication far beyond his years, while Reisenberg plays like a sage. Speaking of “her musical knowledge” at her memorial concert, Friedman said, “It made each rehearsal an event—indeed I couldn’t wait until the next one.” That sense of discovery comes across in these performances. We are fortunate to have Robert Sherman’s interview with both artists on these CDs. Most telling is Friedman’s comment that in a duo the pianist must play like a violinist, and the violinist like a pianist. For Reisenberg, this meant having the piano play legato, as with a bow; indeed, she always maintains a singing line. For Friedman, playing like a pianist involved the violin’s articulation, which can be heard in the great variety of his playing. In the interview, it is a joy to hear two such artists speak so articulately—especially to discover how feisty Reisenberg was at age 73. Friedman’s comment that most violinists can’t hear themselves play is priceless. Clearly two very special musicians joined forces to create a very special recital.
Brahms’s Third Sonata receives a relaxed yet incisive performance. The opening Allegro has the feeling of a fantasy, with lots of freedom in tempo and shading. Friedman makes a rich sound. The Adagio is a cri de coeur on Friedman’s part. Reisenberg plays with particular sensitivity in the third movement, making me wish we could hear her in Brahms’s concertos. The last movement is subtly Agitato, without extreme tension. I like the studio recordings of this work by Aaron Rosand with Hugh Sung and Curtis Macomber with Derek Han, but I think Friedman and Reisenberg reach deeper into the music. Their Strauss Sonata is highly lyrical, giving it the status of a major work. In the opening movement, Friedman’s playing is silky, a reminder that his teacher, Jascha Heifetz, had this Sonata in his repertoire. The duo performs here with real verve. They give the next movement an ethereal gentleness which is absolutely gorgeous. Reisenberg’s playing in the last movement is full of color, while Friedman displays lots of personality. Alexander Tcherepnin had died a few days before the concert, so the artists performed his Elegy in the composer’s memory. As Friedman says, there is more pain than beauty in the piece. The performance is deeply committed.
In Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata, Friedman and Reisenberg do not seek to impress, as so many performers do, through size and force. The opening movement reveals an elevated dialogue between the instruments. The approach is more Grecian than volcanic. Friedman and Reisenberg do not take the exposition repeat here. The variations movement is tender and elegant. The players subtly differentiate the moods of the variations. Reisenberg’s singing line is highly in evidence here. The last movement opens with a feeling of surprise. The artists do take this exposition repeat. They build up momentum in the movement without resorting to extremes in speed. They even find a prankster-like element in the music. Friedman and Reisenberg’s “Kreutzer” can withstand comparison to that of famous duos such as Augustin Dumay with Maria João Pires and Arthur Grumiaux with Clara Haskil, although I do have a special place in my affections for the version by Fritz Kreisler and Franz Rupp. The sound engineering for the recital is generally good. The image of the piano is slightly muffled, but the ear adjusts to it. The excerpts from the recital played as part of Robert Sherman’s interview with the performers are disappointing, due to a poor recorded balance between the instruments. It is wonderful, though, that the artistry of Friedman and Reisenberg has been preserved here. Their concert performances together are more than just illuminating; they are touching.
Applauseby Recorded Sound Date of Recording: 10/11/1977 Venue: Kaufman Auditorium, New York, NY Length: 0 Minutes 34 Secs.
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 108by Johannes Brahms Performer:
Nadia Reisenberg (Piano),
Erick Friedman (Violin)
Period: Romantic Written: 1886-1888; Austria Date of Recording: 10/11/1977 Venue: Kaufman Auditorium, New York, NY Length: 27 Minutes 7 Secs.
Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat major, Op. 18by Richard Strauss Performer:
Erick Friedman (Violin),
Nadia Reisenberg (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1887; Germany Date of Recording: 10/11/1977 Venue: Kaufman Auditorium, New York, NY Length: 44 Minutes 58 Secs.
Elegy for violin & piano, Op. 43by Alexander Tcherepnin Performer:
Nadia Reisenberg (Piano),
Erick Friedman (Violin)
Period: Modern Date of Recording: 10/11/1977 Venue: Kaufman Auditorium, New York, NY Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs.
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