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Shannon Lee - Debussy, Elgar, Brahms, Scriabin

Release Date: 07/22/2008 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 80695   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Henri WieniawskiFritz KreislerClaude DebussySir Edward Elgar,   ... 
Performer:  Pamela Mia PaulShannon Lee
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

INTRODUCING SHANNON LEE Shannon Lee (vn); Pamela Mia Paul (pn) TELARC 80695 (55:20)

WIENIAWSKI Scherzo-Tarantelle. KREISLER Tambourin chinois. Recitativo and Scherzo. DEBUSSY (arr. Heifetz) Beau soir. ELGAR Salut d’amour. Read more class="COMPOSER12">SCRIABIN (arr. Szigeti) Étude in Thirds, op. 8/10. BRAHMS Sonatensatz. VITALI (arr. Charlier) Chaconne. ENGEL Sea Shells. CHOPIN (ed. Milstein) Nocturne in c?. RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (arr. Heifetz) Flight of the Bumblebee. ERNST Der Erlkönig. BAZZINI La ronde des lutins

Shannon Lee is 16 years old now, but was only 14 when she recorded the recital that Telarc touts as her introduction. She has studied principally with Jan Mark Sloman of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and must have worked through a great number of virtuoso showpieces, as the recital’s makeup testifies. Each of its items has served as a vehicle for the greatest violinists of earlier generations, and many of them have been associated with particular exponents. The first number on the program, Henri Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tarantelle , showcases surprising left-hand dexterity, a tone of searching depth yet not without grit— and, in the singing middle section, subtle and ingenious command of portamentos. Fritz Kreisler’s Tambourin chinois allows Lee to demonstrate a sharp rhythmic sense akin to the composer’s. While in the Recitativo of his Recitativo and Scherzo she wanders convincingly through slinky, Ysaÿe-inspired declamations, the Scherzo is all fireworks, and she begins slowly, accenting more strongly in patterns than I’ve heard most violinists do. Jascha Heifetz’s transcription of Debussy’s Beau soir provides an effective contrast in her performance, with seductive timbres and suggestive harmonies supporting her veiled melodic line (Lee creates a similar effect in Efrem Zimbalist’s transcription of Carl Engel’s song, Sea Shells ).

In the choice of repertoire and in her manner of delivering it, it’s clear that Lee has heard great violinists. That’s specifically apparent in Salut d’amour , in which her manner, with its dynamic and tempo changes and swooping portamentos, hearkens back to an era of salon music that many violinists have unfortunately disavowed; her always judicious and deeply affecting way with this piece should remind listeners of just how much has been lost. Joseph Szigeti may seldom—at least in his maturity—have indulged in virtuosity for its own sake, but his transcription of Scriabin’s Étude , championed by the lamented Michael Rabin, though it may contain a hard kernel of musical substance, nevertheless has the effect of an exuberant technical romp. Lee’s probing musicianship (it might be tempting to call it precocious if musical talent weren’t so often just that) comes to the fore in Brahms’s Scherzo, in which she also appears to be a knowing partner of Pamela Mia Paul, who rises auspiciously in this piece from her role as accompanist to that of collaborator. If an occasional accent in Vitali’s Chaconne seems too sharp or an occasional double-stopped passage seems a bit ungainly, Lee nevertheless effectively deploys its transcription’s not-quite-Baroque arsenal of technical tricks. Milstein’s transcription of Chopin’s Nocturne in C? Minor, for which, incidentally, he offered violinists little guidance in fingering (perhaps because he so often improvised his own), offers a comparable variety of expressive devices, of which Lee also makes a great deal.

The last three pieces conclude the program with a traditional but still bracing display of fireworks. Ernst’s version of Schubert’s Erlkönig (not, as the notes suggest, one of the six polyphonic studies—those already add up to the required number six) may not bring out the sharpest characterization of the two voices, but Lee is still technically and accentually acute. In Bazzini’s Goblins’ Round , she may lack the young Heifetz’s sheer élan, but then she’s younger (he recorded it at 16)—and she does end in a fiery burst of energy.

What does this recital prove, besides the obvious fact that Lee plays very well for her age (or any age)? I’ve a few suggestions. First, that if you have talent you can still learn to play this well outside New York or Philadelphia. Second, that familiarity with performances by great violinists from the past (Lee, for example, knows about Rabin’s recordings) can still be an advantage in formation. Third, that it may not be critically important to play a Strad or Guarneri (Lee used the ex-Hill Georgio—not Santo—Seraphin for this recording). Fourth, that you can still tell a great deal about yourself in literature less profound (and more violinistically conceived) than Beethoven’s or Brahms’s sonatas. And, finally—have I already mentioned it?—that Shannon Lee plays both very brilliantly and very engagingly. Perhaps not yet with an immediately identifiable voice, but with a great deal of conviction and startling insight. Incidentally, Telarc’s engineers catch her close up, in a not overly reverberant setting. Urgently recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Scherzo-Tarantelle in G minor, Op. 16 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Zino Francescatti. 
Tambourin chinois, Op. 3 by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice for Violin solo, Op. 6 by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911; Austria 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Beau soir by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1880; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Jascha Heifetz. 
Salut d'amour, Op. 12 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1889; England 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 8: no 10 in D flat major by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1894; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Joseph Szigeti. 
Scherzo for Violin and Piano in C minor, WoO 2 "FAE Sonata" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Chaconne in G minor by Tommaso Antonio Vitali
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Length: 10 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Léopold Charlier. 
Sea-Shell by Carl Engel
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Efrem Zimbalist. 
Nocturne for Piano in C sharp minor, B 49 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Nathan Milstein.
The attribution of this composition to Chopin is doubtful. 
Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 - Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Jascha Heifetz. 
Le roi des aulnes, Op. 26 "Der Erlkönig" by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst
Performer:  Shannon Lee (Violin), Pamela Mia Paul (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1854; Moravia, Czech Repub 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
La ronde des lutins, Op. 25 by Antonio Bazzini
Performer:  Pamela Mia Paul (Piano), Shannon Lee (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1847; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Zino Francescatti. 

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