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Schubert, Brahms, Bloch, Gershwin

Schubert / Trotovsek / Misumi
Release Date: 08/13/2013 
Label:  Meridian Records   Catalog #: 84620   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz SchubertJohannes BrahmsIgor FrolovErnest Bloch
Performer:  Lana TrotovsekYoko Misumi
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT, BRAHMS, BLOCH, GERSHWIN Lana Trotovsek (vn); Yoko Misumi (pn) MERIDIAN 84620 (75:05)

SCHUBERT Violin Sonata No. 2 in a, D 385. BRAHMS Violin Sonata No. 3. BLOCH Baal Shem. GERSHWIN (arr. Frolov) Fantasy on Porgy and Bess Read more />
Violinist Lana Trotovsek’s recital with pianist Yoko Misumi opens with the second of Franz Schubert’s three early sonatas, originally designated by their publisher as “sonatinas.” Trotovsek seems at the outset to produce a somewhat harsh—at least edgy—tone from the 1750 Pietro Antonio dalla Costa violin upon which she plays, and the engineers have captured that sound up close, which enhances the sense of drama the violinist brings to the opening movement (there’s a sort of division of emotional labor, with Misumi maintaining greater and more lyrical repose throughout). But the duo joins together to explore the haunting passages at the movement’s center: the sense of drama represents only one arrow in Trotovsek’s emotional quiver. Accordingly, the Andante sounds serenely expressive in her reading, Trotovsek lavishing upon it ingratiating rhythmic nuance. After the duo’s bracing version of the Menuetto, she and Misumi return to the even-tempered calm of the slow movement, again with ample nuance, while fully realizing the middle section’s tempest.

In the first movement of Johannes Brahms’s Third Sonata, Trotovsek and Misumi also traverse a broad range of emotions: Misumi emphasizes the lyricism of the second melody with generous rubato (Trotovsek’s expressive counterpart being, perhaps, a judicious but effective portamento). The more turbulent middle section reveals once again (as did the opening of Schubert’s Sonata) roughness in the tone of Trotovsek’s violin; yet in the concluding passages (mostly in higher registers), it sounds very sweet indeed. Trotovsek and Misumi create a warm glow in the slow movement; in this, the passages in the lower registers don’t sound so abrasive: The violin may simply resist being forced lower in its range. If Brahms’s insistent syncopations can sound obsessive, they don’t seem that way in the Sonata’s third movement of this warmly relaxed performance. In the Finale, Trotovsek and Misumi also take time to mine many veins of musical meaning without ever compromising the movement’s headlong forward drive.

Ernest Bloch’s Baal Shem offers Trotovsek and Misumi an opportunity for further impassioned searching, as in its first movement, “Vidui.” In the “Nigun,” often played separately, Trotovsek’s reading reveals expressive detail, strongly contrasting with the intense, but more straightforward reading of some older violinists such as, say, Isaac Stern. And Misumi shows herself more partner than accompanist. The concluding pages of the final movement, “Simchas Torah,” combine exuberance with introspection in an irresistible compound.

Igor Frolov’s Fantasy on George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess invokes an idiomatic jazzy response from the partners, not at all stiff but not mannered, either. I’ve heard at least one pop violinist fall flat in material similar to this, crossing over from the jazz world to the classical. Trotovsek’s dynamic range and sense of rhetoric (expressive devices and hesitations) helps her put across such diverse (but, at the same time, cognate) material as “I Got Plenty o’ Nuthin’” and “Summertime” (in which she wails seductively).

Lana Trotovsek proves in this recital to be a violinist with a great deal more to offer than a perfect technique and resplendent tone (and a sympathetic pianist). Although hers isn’t an academic or intellectual performance, it gives listeners a great deal about which to think (and proves how much within the standard repertoire hasn’t yet been exhausted); and although her violin sounds aren’t always smooth or elegant, they’re consistently beguiling. Insightful booklet notes, too, prove capable of guiding listeners without overwhelming them. Most urgently and warmly recommended to all the various kinds of listeners.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Sonatina for Violin and Piano in A minor, D 385/Op. 137 no 2 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Lana Trotovsek (Violin), Yoko Misumi (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  St. Edward the Confessor Church SE Londo 
Length: 20 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 108 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Yoko Misumi (Piano), Lana Trotovsek (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886-1888; Austria 
Venue:  St. Edward the Confessor Church SE Londo 
Length: 23 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Concert Fantasy on themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, for violin & piano by Igor Frolov
Performer:  Lana Trotovsek (Violin), Yoko Misumi (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  St. Edward the Confessor Church SE Londo 
Length: 15 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Baal shem by Ernest Bloch
Performer:  Yoko Misumi (Piano), Lana Trotovsek (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; USA 
Venue:  St. Edward the Confessor Church SE Londo 
Length: 14 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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