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Iris van Eck

Frans Waltmans' Website, December 15, 2006

The two Sonatas for Cello and Piano that are featured on Iris van Eck (cello) and Arielle Vernède’s newest CD don’t exactly belong to the standard concert repertoire.

The first work on the CD was composed by Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952). Bosmans is no stranger in the Dutch Music circuit. The Henriëtte Bosmans Prize, an encouragement prize for young Dutch Composers, exists since 1994. Henriëtte Bosmans wrote her sonata for cello and piano when she was 24 years old. The work could be a homage to her father, Henri Bosmans, the principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. He died when Henriëtte was only 6 months old. The work is written in late romantic style; it is passionate with technical virtuosity in combination with a foreboding and dark character. The built-in cyclical element in the composition, at the end of the last movement of the sonata, the beginning theme of the first movement returns, works as a release from a breathtaking embrace… finally solid ground under your feet. The way Bosmans uses this cyclic theme shows that Bosmans was a talented and intelligent composer who knew how to connect feelings with the intellect. Iris van Eck and Arielle Vernède use this element to the max and make this performance a very special one. The second work is by Jeanne-Louise Farrenc-Dumont (Paris 1804-1875): Sonata nr. 1 for cello en piano in B flat, opus 46 from the year 1861. Already at the age of 15 Farrenc studied composition with Anton Reicha at the Conservatoire de Paris. In 1842 she became professor for piano. She was the only woman in the 19th century to hold a position like that at the Conservatoire. Many well-known musicians from that era came from her piano class which she directed for 30 years. The form of her first Sonata can be called classical but it also holds elements of the French Romantics. All in all the work has a light touch, a joyous melodic approach and playfulness that invites the performers to really make music together and that opportunity is taken with both hands by the two soloists.

Iris van Eck and Arielle Vernède finish off their CD with a performance of a small musical masterwork, Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). Passacaglia (1941) is a very short work of less than five minutes. The use of the passacaglia form in this work together with the use of melodic material show that, not withstanding the short duration of the work, Clarke is a very gifted composer. This short work is a beautiful encore after these two admirable sonatas.

Frans Waltmans

Palm Beach Post; December 03, 2006

Shedding light on women composers

The season brings gifts from local classical groups, including Seraphic Fire (a live recording of its survey last season of the six Bach motets), the Ibis Camerata (a disc on Albany Records featuring University of Miami-related composers), and finally, the only one I have at this time, a record of three works for cello and piano by female composers.

The record, just out on Eroica, and called Works for Cello and Piano by Women Composers, features the cellist Iris van Eck, who directs Fort Lauderdale’s Chameleon concert series, which opens another season next week (details here). The pianist is Arielle Vernede, who like van Eck is a native of the Netherlands.

I’ve listened to this disc a couple times, and need to hear it some more to make myself more familiar with this music, but it’s certainly worth hearing, especially if you’re interested in rarely played works of the literature.

This disc opens with a Sonata from 1919 by the Dutch composer Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952). Bosmans was a pianist, and apparently quite a good one. She came from a musical family-her father was a cellist and her mother a pianist.

This sonata is a powerful, dark work, full of lovely, mournful melody and somber color. It's written in a post-Romantic style that doesn’t break much new ground for its time, but it’s committed, passionate music. The first movement, in particular, sounds like what Rachmaninoff would have written like if he was more like Fauré.

It's a good piece, with plenty of difficult work for both players, and it would make an attractive addition to the usual run of Beethoven and Brahms on the standard cello recital program.

The second selection on the disc is the Cello Sonata No. 1, Op. 46, of the French composer Louise Farrenc (1804-1875), written in 1857, is a fine work, skillfully and elegantly composed.

It's redolent of Mendelssohn (Felix and Fanny), Schumann and Beethoven, and idiomatically written for both instruments. The slow second movement has some nice harmonic surprises that add a touch of pathos to its serene beauty.

Last up is the Passacaglia on an Old English Tune by the English violist and composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). This is an arrangement for cello of a viola original, and a good piece it is. Clarke was a real talent whose work should be played more often; her Viola Sonata is a masterful piece that always goes over well with audiences.

The majority of classical music has been composed by men, but there are many more women writers active these days (and here's a wiki list of the better-known names of the past centuries), and it won’t be too much longer before a great woman composer’s music enters the canon (Ellen Taaffe Zwilich? Kaija Saariaho? Sofia Gubaidulina?).

In the meantime, there are other composers besides the two who I'm guessing are most performed – America’s Amy Beach and France’s Camille Chaminade - whose work should be programmed more frequently, and this cello disc makes a good case for them.

This disc has spurred my interest in hearing more music by these writers - in particular the later music of Bosmans, which apparently underwent quite a stylistic switch in the late 1920s. For now, this disc serves as a good introduction, and I’m grateful to Iris van Eck for sending it along.

Greg Stepanich

Scott Slapin & Tanya Solomon

The Viola List

SCOTT AND TANYA ARE BACK!

I have just received the most recent CD of Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon, violists, and am most happy to report that it is an exceptional and delightful offering of viola solo and duo music. It is titled: RECITAL ON THE ROAD/ WHAT WE DID ON OUR SUMMER EVACUATION. Scott's program notes speak of the genesis of this recording, done after their evacuation from their home in New Orleans and the Katrina disaster in the many months after they lost virtually everything they owned and picked up the pieces of their personal and musical lives.

As terrible as this experience must have been for Scott and Tanya, the results of this recording surely don't reflect any diminution of their outstanding talents. Those who know their previous CDs should expect the same high quality of viola playing and musicality and they will not be disappointed.

This potpourri of viola music includes:

  • Paul Hindemith's Sonata op. 25, no. 1 for solo viola
  • Antonio Barolomeo Bruni's Sonata No. 1 for 2 Violas
  • Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 3, arr. for viola
  • Joh. Seb. Bach's Allemande from the Suite No. 6
  • Alessandro Rolla's Duet in E flat for 2 Violas

Both Scott and Tanya sound wonderful here, their instruments very resonant and full. The technique is there in plenty for the more demanding music (Hindemith and Paganini), and the Bruni and Rolla duos are just wonderful. Rolla, who violists will know for his sound contributions to the viola repertory (concerti, solo works for viola and orchestra, many duos for violin and viola, mixed ensemble pieces with prominent viola parts, etc.) , wrote many duos for 2 violas. While some these Rolla viola duos border on the simplistic, this Duo in E flat is a substantial work, musically very rewarding and technically quite demanding.

Violists wishing to have a good piece for themselves, their students and for their viola duo libraries can obtain this Rolla duo from Fountain Park Music. See their web site.

This CD is EROICA CLASSICAL RECORDINGS JDT3265. You can go to the Eroica web site or Scott's and get more specific information about this CD.

-Myron Rosenblum

Jeannine Dennis & Philip Amalong

American Record Guide: January 2004

Flute Sonatas

The Lowell Liebermann and Bohuslav Martinu sonatas are (deservedly) played and recorded so much these days that they've established so themselves as classics in the modern flute-and-piano recital literature along with the works in the same genre by Poulenc, Dutilleux, Prokofieff, Hindemith, Piston, and perhaps two or three more. These are polished and sensitive performances, but many flute aficionados will already have several recordings.

It's the less-often-heard items that will make this recital so appealing to most collectors. Suite Paysanne Hongroise is a 13-minute cycle of 14 short folk songs and dances originally set down by Bartok for solo piano and later arranged for flute and piano by Paul Arma, a hungarian-born French composer show studied with Bartok in the 1920s. It's sometimes easy to forget, especially when listening to his stringent string quartets, how skillful and subtle Bartok's handling of more traditional material could be. As in all master composers the harmonies are endlessly inventive yet unforced and compelling in their logic. The songs are lovely and poignant, the dances sprightly and vivacious - a perfect blend of simplicity and sophistication. My guess is that it's only this suite's lack of virtuosic display that has kept flutists form programming it more often.

Also inspired by indigenous melodies, though neoclassi in spirit and form, is Otar Taktakishvili's 1988 Sonata. This delightful and melodious creation, very much in the tradition of such skillful Soviet-era craftsmen as Kabalevsky and Rakov, has rarely appeared on records (the only other one I know is Jeanne Baxtresser on Cala 512) but merits more attention. Outer allegros are bright and playful, the enchanting central cantabile sweetly touching.

Flutist Jeannine Dennis and her accompanist Philip Amalong display an ideal partnership; they play with assurance, intelligence, and complete sympathy with the music. The recording is very clear and immediate.

-Lehman

MusicWeb UK: January 2004

From the first haunting moments of the first selection I knew that this was going to be an album that would hold my attention and speak with quiet intensity. I was unfamiliar with the work, composer and players, but even without any foreknowledge the quiet intensity grabbed and held me, demanding attention and rewarding the experience with a gripping musicality.

The album begins with Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, a brilliant work in two parts. The work is modern, colorful, and intense. Throughout, it hearkens to The Rite of Spring with the churning piano laying the foundation for the soaring melodies of the flute. The first movement begins with an introspective melody that twice explodes dramatically into a rash of frenetic energy before recapitulating to the original theme at the end. The second movement is short and virtuosic - quickly becoming a staple of the flute literature. That status is certainly deserved, as it is simply a marvelous work, and skillfully executed here.

The next fourteen tracks are selections from Bela Bartók’s "Suite Paysanne Hongroise", which was a result of his study of Hungarian folk music. It was originally written for solo piano. Paul Arma later reset these works for flute and piano, and Dennis and Amalong beautifully and skillfully execute his arrangement here. I readily admit my love for Bartók’s music, but that can cause me to be very critical of poor renditions of his work. Here the five folk songs and nine dances presented are tastefully and credibly executed.

Lowell Lieberman is again explored with his Soliloquy for solo flute. Jeannine Dennis explores this poignant piece in appropriate solitude. It is exquisitely lyrical, and after repeated listening ranks at the very top of my personal list for solo flute. I admit to not having heard it performed extensively, but even so it would be hard to believe that it could be better executed.

Next is Otar Taktakishvili’s Sonata for Flute and Piano. The Russian work is in three contrasting movements, and is certainly a wonderful discovery. I was again unfamiliar with both the composer and the work, but the performance here presented has made me want to find more of his work; surely one of the greatest compliments. The second movement is pensive nestled between two relatively energetic selections that allow both musicians to extend themselves. Ms. Dennis and Mr. Amalong carry this off with flair.

Martinu's First Sonata for Flute and Piano is also a work that I was not intimately familiar with, although I had been exposed to it previously in live performances. Here it is fabulously executed, again with the syncopated, serpentine melodies presented with clear, open lyricism. I cannot speak highly enough of the performance. The two musicians are perfectly synchronized and present the composer in the best light humanly possible.

In short, this album has been a wonderful voyage of discovery for me. The works I was familiar with were wrapped in new trappings with the flute taking the lead. However, the majority of the pieces were new to me, and this imposed discovery is one that I am particularly grateful for. The musicianship of the performers is unquestionable, and the selections made are impeccable. The money spent on this album is well worth it as any lover of chamber music will quickly find it to be one of their favorites. I cannot recommend this album more highly.

-Patrick Gary

Nothing But Valves Brass Quartet

American Record Guide: January/February 1999

Nothing But Valves: HAINES: Toccata; FRACKENPOHL: Quartet; HARTLEY: Solemn Music; SCOTT: Quartet; MACDOWELL: 3 Pieces; GRAHAM: Timepiece; SANDER: Anecdotes; RAMSOE: Quartet 5; DOWLAND: Come Again, Sweet Love EROICA 3003 (JEM) 59 Minutes

Although I played in a very good brass quartet as a graduate student, the medium doesn't hold much attraction for me today. Most quartets are pairs of trumpets and trombones; they have a rather thin sound and meager literature, as opposed to the much fuller sound and richer literature of the brass quintet. But I was won over by this excellent disc. The Washington DC-based quartet has a terrific sound, first-rate musicianship, and excellent technical skills.

Those unfamiliar with standard brass quartet literature (almost everyone) would profit from hearing NBV's superb readings of Wilhem Ramsoe's virtuoso Quartet 5 (1888), Edmund Haine's spiky Toccata (1949), Arthur Frackenpohl's whimsical Quartet (1950), and Walter Hartley's miniature character pieces in Solemn Music (1968). I love NBV's mellow way with Douglas Lemmon's setting of John Dowland's 'Come Again, Sweet Love'. Dave Thomas's arrangement of three Edward MacDowell songs is a soft and sentimental interlude.

Of the three new works, Steve Scott's Quartet (1995) is the most interesting. Composed for NBV in 1995, it opens with a very attractive, Copland-flavored I. A pensive II has lovely horn and euphonium solos accompanied by muted trumpets, while III is angular and forceful. Peter Graham's Timepiece (1994) is the sort of light, tuneful fare he writes for British brass bands, while Peter Sander's Anecdotes (1993) offers six brief and not very memorable ditties.

The members of Nothing But Valves are trumpeters Andrew Wilson and William Adcock, hornist Samuel Compton, and euphonium player Lance LaDuke. Recorded sound is fine.

-Kilpatrick

Shoshana Rudiakov & Michael Rudiakov

American Record Guide: May/June 1999

Beethoven: Triple Concerto Mozart: Quintet in D, K 593 Eudice Shapiro, Susan Suh, violins, George Taylor, Ariel Rudiakov, violas; Michael Rudiakov, violincello; Shoshana Rudiakov, piano; Manchester Festival Orchestra, conducted by David Gilbert. Eroica 3011 (Jem) 59 minutes

These are concert recordings from the 1993 Manchester Festival, founded in 1974 by the musical team of Eugene List and Carroll Glenn, both deceased. But their festivala goes on - quite well if these recordings are any indicator. Given the capriciousness of major companies in recording or not recording any but the biggest of box office attractions, the idea of musical organizations like this one producing their own recordings is gaining in acceptance. This disc should further the process, since it is an attractive job in all prospects.

Beethoven's Triple Concerto-that strange but compelling hybrid of piano trio, solo concerto, concerto grosso, and symphony-gets an attractive, sensible performance. I'm not sure I would set aside my Oistrakh-Rostropovich-Richter/ Karajan (EMI) or even my old monaural Bruno Walter (Sony) in its favor, but it is quite enjoyable on its own terms and maintains its interest with repeated hearings. The three soloists are an admirable team, and they and the orchestra complement each other nicely. The (chamber) orchestra plays handsomely, and conductor Gilbert (Greenwich Symphony, Manhattan School) sets a logical pace and keeps the work on track from start to finish.

The Mozart Quintet is also a very attractive performance, with both power and grace. The music is Mozart at his best: bold, lyrical, powerful. The lovely slow movement is played with lyric beauty and attractive tone. The minuet is done at a sensible tempo, unhurried and graceful. The lively finale brings the work to a satisfying conclusion.

Sound in both works is clean, balanced, and fully listenable, with only applause at the end of each piece to remind us of the presence of the audience. The packaging is attractive. The notes cover the festival and the artists, but say nothing of the music-a mistake when the disc will presumably be offered to future festival goers, many of whom will not be seasoned music goers with shelves of reference material to draw on. A final quibble: no bands between movements. But I enjoyed the program despite these minor reservations, and I recommend it to you.

-McClain

Ron McFarland

American Record Guide: May/June 1999

Ron McFarland: Trio; 4 Songs in Blue; Violin Sonata; Homages Preludes (sel); Lear and Cordelia Sara Ganz, soprano; Ron McFarland, Mack McCray, Dmitriy Cogan, piano; Lisa Lhee, violi, others Eroica 3019 (Jem) 71 minutes

This is the second anthology of songs and chamber music by Ron McFarland-a genial Californian pianist and composer who studied with Arnold Schoenberg-to come my way. A song cycle on Cavafy poems and a string quartet were on the first disc (Con Molto 94001), Sept/Oct 1997). Like them, the offerings on this new program are fairly old-fsahioned-though it should be added that McFarland employes a range of styloes in different works. He makes a point of this in Les Hommages Preludes, an enjoyable 50-minute set of 24 preludes "in the manner of" 12 different composers. The Con Molto disc mentioned above includes the complete Hommages: this new disc tosses in a handful ("after" Satie, Liszt, and Ravel) as fillers.

The main items here are a Trio (for flute, harp, and viola), a violin sonata, Four Songs in Blue, for soprano and piano, and Lear and Cordelia, a setting of excerpts from King Lear for two speakers accompanied by a chamber ensemble of winds, percussion, and harp. The three-movement Trio is a charmer: nicely crafted in a Gallic-inspired mode (with echoes of Ravel, Poulenc, and many another Frenchman), this is a sensuous, harmonically rich, and timbrally luscious creation. It gets a loving performance, vividly recorded before a well-behaved (ie, silent until they applaud) audience.

Also very well performed and recorded is McFarland's recent Four Songs in Blue on texts (included in the notes) by Patrick Emery Carr, a poet who wrote lyrics for Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, among others. The music is appropriately popular in idiom, and listeners who respond to this genre will no doubt appreciate the romantic sentiment and Sara Ganz's expressive singing.

McFarland's 1972 Violin Sonata is made of sterner stuff, and it's a much more dissonant and edgy piece expressing darker and more complex emotions. Its avatars are such German early-Moderns as Zemlinsky, Eisler, and Schoenberg in his late-tonal phase, though even here McFarland's love of vernacular music comes through in the finale, with it fixation on waltz-rhythms. The impact of this well-made but difficult Sonata-my favorite work on the program-is somewhat compromised by patches of rough playing and an only so-so recording. I can't help wishing violinist Lisa Lhee and pianist Dmitriy Cogan-both clearly excellent players, genuinely involved with the music-had had the chance to make a more polished studio recording of the piece.

Last and (at 26 minutes) longest is McFarland's mini-opera based on the Lear-Cordelia relationship in King Lear. The music is modest, accompanimental, and-as it should be-subservient to the larger-than-life storms and heartbreaking torments of this magniloquent tragedy. It doesn't begin to do justice to Shakespeare's words-but then what music could?

- Lehman

Jennifer Tao

American Record Guide: May/June 1999

Beethoven: Piano Sonata 21 Choipin: Ballade I Ives: The Alcotts Liszt: Au lac de Wallenstadt Medtner: Fairy Tale in B-flat minor; Ravel: Alborada del Gracioso Scarlatti: Piano Sonata in D, L 164 Eroica 3015 (Jem) 58 minutes

Although I'm inclined to admire any artist who shares jacket-photo spread with a cat, Jennifer Tao has more than exemplary taste in furry friends to commend her. This is evident immediately from the Medtner that opens the disc and impresses with Tao's febrile and persuasive sense of rubato. Her tone is rich and unforced, with chordings that pile up sonorously in climactic passages.

The Beethoven leaves a more equivocal impression, its opening ostinato uncertain and skittish. Though Tao's fingerwork is generally fleet, the exposition unfolds in episodic and percussive fashion. The development section is more engaging, as the central motive cell chases its tail through the piano's registers, building to an exciting, propulsive coda. The laconic slow movement unfolds fitfully, in short-breathed phrases. The finale does flow confidently and with a sense of grand design. The principal theme chimes brightly in Tao's right hand, augmented with runs and trills, the sonata finishing in a charming scamper. It's all rather "Waldstein meets Flight of the Bumblebee" but quite exciting

The Concord Sonata extract doesn't lack for intensity, but one does miss the deep, legato stroke of Gilbert Kalish (Nonesuch). Also, in Tao's hands, the reiterations of the motto from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony-an Ivesian idee fixe-emerge with more clangor than majesty.

The square accentuation of the Scarlatti is partly redeemed by Tao's crystalline trills and voice-leadings, while the Ravel moves forward with a jagged, impatient undertow (which I like) and big washes of color. Liszt's 'Wallenstadt Lake', scene of lotus-eating dalliances with Marie D'Agoult, laps beguilingly in Tao's left hand. If the statement of the main theme is unromantically matter-of-fact, it subsides meltingly into the coda.

Romanticism of the upper-case sort seems to be Tao's bag, judging from the febrility that also marks her reading of the Chopin, particularly evident in the quiet passion of the B section. This erupts into volleys of runs, then manic accelerandos and a provocatively crazed repprise of the Ballade's waltz tune. Ending with descending octaves of crushing finality, the coda owns the desperation that Chopin's music demands.

-Mckee

Jacques Després

What's New W-Bach Classical 104.9FM, Boston, MA
I found Mr. Després' interpretations very refreshing. I also was quite satisfied with the selections on the CD. While there may be a temptation to explore his "dark side", the music featured on this disc lean more to the "spiritual" Liszt. I have a feature called "The Midnight Lullaby", and I am anxious to play at least 3 of these selections for that slot.

-John McTague, Music Director

Le Nouvelliste, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
This delightful new album from Eroica Classical Recordings features lovely, sensitive interpretations of the music of Franz Liszt and Modest Musorgsky, by the young Canadian pianist, Jacques Despres. His Liszt selections, En Reve and Abschied, based on a Russian folk tune, were rendered with delicate, subtle playing." Kip Allen, Program Director, on "Something's New" KHFM Classical 96FM, Albuquerque, NM "Jacques Després has developed a smooth and flexible technique which can handle just about any problem Liszt devised." Eric McLean, "The Gazette", Montreal "He immediately showed that he is a Bartok player after the composer's own heart. Despres played with imagination and incisive, accurate rhythm, but he always brought out the singing quality in the music. It's that mixture of beautiful song and singing dissonance that makes Bartok's music so memorable, and Despres' performance was also memorable." Leslie Gerber, "Woodstock Times" "Already possessor of an excellent technique, Jacques Despres went even further in the knowledge and science of his instrument, which bestows him with pianistic means of the first order. The pianistic control is impeccable, the sonority magnificent, and the playing is of utmost and constant clarity." Marc Samson, "le Soleil", Quebec "After the Egmont Overture, the audience listened to the Emperor Concerto rendered in a sovereign fashion. This Beethoven masterpiece requires from the performer great sensitivity and power, which we find in Despres." Levis, Canada "Few major pianists have given equally convincing performances of Beethoven and Chopin. The ability to play one composer's music very well seems almost to preclude doing as well with the other. But Despres proved an exception to this rule." Leslie Gerber, "Woodstock Times" "He once more revealed himself an artist of refined taste, quivering sensitivity, intelligence, and discipline, through which filter a love of music-making. He is a willful interpreter of undeniable insight--the possessor of a sure and at times stunning technique who never wants to only dazzle.

Emanuel Gruber

GRAMOPHONE
Complete Works for Cello and Piano
Emanuel Gruber, cello; Arnon Erez, piano
Eroica JDT3227; 1:49 (2-CD Set)

Like-minded musicians give us a Beethoven set that shines

The glorious give-and-take of chamber music is often characterized as conversational. What’s not usually talked about is that this means there are usually points in which one interlocutor accidentally interrupts or talks over another. In music, it’s an organic element we come to expect and even appreciate when there is no conductor. But sometimes, as is the case in this splendid disc, a performance can sound conducted, so like-minded are the musicians in the dialogue. In tackling the complete music for cello and piano of Beethoven, cellist Emanuel Gruber and pianist Arnon Erez shape with such thoughtfulness and precision that it seems someone has to be directing the whole affair. The recording moves with confidence towards goals, eliciting the inherent climaxes and interpretative arcs of the music while never sacrificing accuracy.

There are many excellent recordings of the cello sonatas available. By and large only very serious and capable cellists and pianists seem to attempt them. But where one does separate good from the best surely are the two later Op 102 Sonatas. Here, the musicality of Gruber and Erez shines. The first never seems pressed, yet catapults from theme to theme with uncommon verve. In particular, the contours of the Allegro vivace display bursts of energy while never sacrificing lyricism. The second is given a noble treatment, extending into a stately reading of the fugal finale.

The rest of the two-disc set does not want for compelling phrasing, too. The early Op 5 Sonatas find Gruber and Erez balancing the clarity of each measure with its greater context in the movement well. It’s a traditional reading but robust and musical. The three variation sets benefit from the holistic treatment, though they are almost performed too seriously. Overall, don’t be thrown by the small label or lesser-known names. This is a strong effort that fits in quite favourably with some of the best recordings available.

-Andrew Druckenbrod
GRAMOPHONE

Yehuda Hanani

Strings, June/July 2007
Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello and Piano:
Five Sonatas and Three Sets of Variations
Yehuda Hanani, cello; Walter Ponce, piano
(Close Encounters with Music CEWM/JDT3300)

If Beethoven's reputation as an innovator needs any justification, it can be found in his cello sonatas: Opus 5, Nos. 1 & 2 (1796); Opus 102, Nos. 1 & 2 (1815); and the most familiar, Opus 69 (1807-08). These works are performed here with great feeling by internationally acclaimed pianist Walter Ponce and Israeli-born cellist Yehuda Hanani, who has collaborated with the likes of Itzhak Perlman, Leon Fleisher, as well as members of the Emerson, Vermeer, Juilliard, and Cleveland quartets, among others.

These pieces represent not only a new instrumental genre, but also a departure from the traditional sonata structure. All except Opus 69 have only two movements; all contain slow sections of extraordinary beauty and expressive depth which function as introductions to the main fast movements. Only the last sonata has a "real" slow movement, and it, too, leads into the finale fugato.

In Opus 102, No. 1, the introduction recurs, elaborated, like a memory, to bridge the slow and fast parts of the second movement. Together, the sonatas form an arch, with Opus 69, beloved for its warm, melting lyricism, acting as structural and emotional center. The first pair belongs to Beethoven's carefree, exuberant youth, though the first movement of the second sonata foreshadows the dramatic tension of his later works. The second pair is true late Beethoven, encompassing a wealth of emotions from humor to sublime serenity. The Variations— two sets on themes by Mozart, one by Handel—date from 1796 and 1801.

The performances on this new disc are technically impeccable, tonally beautiful, faithful to the score, meticulously thought-out, and strongly felt. The slow parts are wonderfully inward, the thorny final fugue is unusually light and transparent.

The players' ensemble and balance are excellent, with natural, conversational give-and-take. Especially remarkable is their ability to capture and change mood, character, and expression with great subtlety through phrasing, nuance, inflection, and poised liberties.

Though not everyone may agree with all the interpretive choices, this is a valuable addition to the Beethoven discography.

Playful, charming, brilliant, the performances seem designed to entertain, but harbor delightful surprising modulations and magical moments of deep, sometimes tragic expressiveness.

Strings, June 1998

Bach's Cello Suites are "blueprints for cellists of all generations," writes Yehuda Hanani in his introduction to this recording. There are more than 20 editions of them, "all claiming the mantle of truth," but the problems posed by four divergent manuscripts, none by Bach himself, all riddled with inaccuracies, as well as the absence of original bowings, dynamics, and tempo indications, give performers both the liberty and the responsibility "to make their own edition with each performance."

Of the literally innumerable recordings of the Suites, Hanani's is one of the most interesting and exciting. His copious program notes reflect his approach, combining a rigorous structural and harmonic analysis with poetic allusions to literature, mythology, philosophy, art, nature, and life. His playing communicates both a scholarly and a passionately personal relationship with the music. He emphasizes contrast of character , mood, texture, dynamics, and articulation and regards repeats as an "opportunity to illuminate the music from different angles" with ornaments and unusual effects like pizzicato chords. He plays with great sweep, freedom, and inwardness, fearlessly taking technical and emotional risks. The fast movements can get rugged, even rough, from sheer spontaneous vigor and exuberance; the Preludes are true improvisations, the slow movements deeply expressive.

"The wonders of Bach are inexhaustible," Hanani writes. With his imagination, thoughtfulness, emotional integrity, and scrupulous execution, he has revealed them in a fresh light.

-Edith Eisler
Eroica JDT3037

The Strad
Throughout the disc the playing by Hanani and Levin is of the highest quality. Hanani's intonation is well centered and the partnership is ideally balanced, while the recording -- presumably made in America -- is quite outstanding.

-David Denton

Buffalo Evening News
Breadth, vitality, richness and beautifully centered quality of tone production, uniform across all four strings. There is absolute security of intonation as he moves this gorgeous sound with effortless portamento, carrying the most sensitively sculptured phrases. Nowhere does he permit his phrasing and line to become mechanical. An intensely human heart beats behind every pulse of this music.

San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
In this era of the cello, Hanani is among the best. His Bach was absorbing, imaginative, beautiful in all respects.

Los Angeles Times
Spectacular pyrotechnics

The New York Times
One of the most polished performers of the post-Starker generation, and a consistently expressive artist.

Washington Post
Hanani is a virtuoso with an astoundingly resonant tone to match...phenomenal bowing technique...

London Daily Telegraph
Splendid, impassioned playing

Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin)
He is such a master of his instrument in every way that this critic can only express wonderment at such talent.

The Jerusalem Post
Cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Michael Levin bring all the warmth and poetry one can yearn for to Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata and to other works for cello and piano by Schumann and Schubert. Hanani is a very personal cellist, who in tandem with Levin's tender and robust piano playing brings beauty and charm to these pieces.

The Miami Herald

Time was when a new classical CD by a South Florida artist or ensemble was a novelty. Today, they come in batches.

This month, the count is five new albums - two spotlighting veteran South Florida pianist Michele Levin, who collaborates on different labels with a pair of distinguished colleagues: cellist Yehuda Hanani and Florida Philharmonic principal bassoonist Luciano Magnanini. There are also CDs by the Miami Choral Society; composer Fredrick Kaufman, dean of Florida Interriational University's School of Music; and a "Fats" Waller tribute of piano transcriptions from the University of Miami's Paul Posnak.

Levin, who has lived in South Florida for decades and frequently performs solo recitals and chamber music here, entered Philadelphia's Curtis Institute at 11. There, she studied piano, of course, and she became the only woman to earn a master's degree in.*composition from the famed S&01.

When Igor Stravinsky con- ducted excerpts from Petrouchka here in 1967, it was Levin who played the formidable piano solo. Since those far-off days, she has developed a notable career collaborating with musicians like violinists Ruggiero Ricci and Joseph Silverstein. Recently, her husband, a physician, joined the staff of a major New York hospital, and Levin will soon move to the Big Apple - where she hopes to rev up her career. A loss for South Florida. But the CDs should satisfy admirers of her probing musicianship.

With Hanani, the Israeli-American cellist whose Close Encounters With Music series opens next weekend at Hollywood's Art and Culture Center and Coral Gables' Biltmore Hotel, Levin plays Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata in the big style, with great reflection and breadth. In Hanani's transcription for cello of Schubert's Sonatina No. I for violin and piano, her widely spaced phrasing and the cellist's luxuriant, full-throated tone are a balm to the ear. The pair also project the ardor and lyricism of Schumann's Fantasy Pieces and dig deep beneath the notes of his five seldom-heard Stuecke im Volston.

Magnanini, whose fluent, thoughtful bassoon solos are among the major pleasures of Florida Philharmonic concerts, makes a worthy contribution, too, with a set of neoclassical pieces that benefit from the :rounded warmth of his tone and Levin's incisive inflections. Each piece, though not a major work by its composer, offers pleasant listening. But don't hear them in succession. In mood and style they're too blandly similar. The gracious Dutileux Sarabande and Cortege is extremely attractive and masterfully crafted, as is Castelnuo- vo-Tedesco's Sonatina, though it hints at the genetic film music he churned out for Hollywood. Longo, an Italian scholar-composer who cataloged Scarlatti keyboard sonatas, was, according to this bassoon suite, also an academic classicist when composing.

Scott Slapin

The Journal of the American Viola Society Vol. 19 # 1 (March 2003)
Mr. Slapin...made the works sound like they were originally written for the viola. He has that dash and smoothness that many an older violist would envy...More power for the extraordinary musicianship of Scott Slapin. May his investigative talents present us with equal creativity in the near future.

The American Record Guide: May/June 2000
It is an impressive accomplishment to perform these works on the viola. The demands they make on the left hand are great enough when they are played on the more compact violin, but Slapin plays them with no sign of strain at all, perfect intonation...and a pure, unforced tone. I am mightily impressed.

J.S. Bach Home Page: December 2002

This CD reaffirms my belief that many of the best recordings come from independent record labels... Slapin's sensitive interpretations are the reason for the success of this recording. The famous Chaconne from Partita No. 2 is extraordinary. It evokes emotion in a way that is not common for me; a truly remarkable interpretation. The articulation of the fast movements is excellent, his intonation is perfect and his use of dynamic variation on repeated phrases is a nice interpretive touch. This is a highly recommended recording that I hope many will discover and treasure, as I have.

-Jan Hanford

Bach Central Station
Scott's performance is outstanding, and the interpretation is tasteful. I like this recording better than many of my violin versions.

-Dave Grossman

CD Baby: Oct. 2002
An absolutely stunning and gorgeous album of works for viola— breathtaking musicianship and emotional delivery, this is an album of remarkable stylistic diversity.

The New York Violist: Dec. 2000/Jan. 2001
The Leclair Sonata No. 1 for 2 violas with Tanya Solomon on viola II has some wonderful sonorities…the Bach Suite no. 1 reveals a good sense of style…the Richard Lane (is) well played by the two performers (Ms. Rosenblum at the piano)...intriguing music for viola... we can look forward to more CDs from this talented artist in the future.

The Strad: Jan. 2000
Slapin's Triptych is an enjoyable addition to the small repertoire for a trio of lower strings. It is beautifully written for the instruments, avoiding any impression of heaviness, and its witty finale, The Hassid and the Hayseed, cleverly combines American folk fiddle and klezmer elements.

The New York Violist: Nov. 1999
This is an impressive set for the strong musicality of it all and the difficult music played so well... his sound is robust and resonant and the interpretations most musical. What... comes across is Mr. Slapin's ever-present musicality and his wide breadth of conceptions...These CDs contain many lovely moments.

The American Record Guide: March/April 2000
Slapin has a rich resonant sound and phrases magisterially.

The New York Violist: Nov. 1999
His own composition, 'Triptych' is a charming work, imbued with a string folk element and strong rhythmic dance-like features (these would be a delightful addition to any viola recital).

Donna Wissinger

The Daily Sun

Virtuoso is not a strong enough term to describe the performance of flutist Donna Wissinger, who is not only highly skilled in the technique of playing the flute, but she also has a capability to infuse the music with a soaring spirit of expression that goes far beyond technique.

Her performances of Bach, Telemann and Handel are evocative of the spirited, lyrical melodies associated with the Baroque period, when, according to Wissinger, the flute was a very popular instrument.

"I wish I could say that it was because they were so enlightened they thought the flute was the voice of God," says Wissinger. "But that just isn't so. The real reason is because the king, Frederick the Great, played the flute, and when the king plays the flute, everybody plays the flute."

Donna Wissinger's talent is not limited to the concert stage. She plays professional tennis on the U.S. Tennis Association circuit, and is a USPTA teaching professional. She has bicycled from New York City to Miami (exceptional training for a wind instrument!) and is a competitive runner. Her athleticism is evident in her performance, as she accompanies each flute piece with sweeping, rhythmic dance movements.

She has studied in Salzburg, Munich, and New York City. She has performed five tours of Europe and Russia, and 12 tours of the United States. She is a proud member of Florida's Artist Residency Program, which brings music to schools in the state.

Donna has just completed recording her first CD on the Eroica Classical Recordings label.

The Village's Daily Sun

Flutist's Album Commanding
Amazing Grace, An American Tapestry, the newly released CD from intemationally renowned concert flutist Donna Wissinger is an exciting work that makes a gentle but persistent demand of the listener. Just listen.

Wissinger, accompanied by Jon Klibonoff on piano, delivers more than just a performance. Tier music draws the listener into an experience - a sort of silent, internal conversation that prevents the listener from focusing on anything else. Simply put, this is not "background music." It is futile to engage in other activity: reading, conversation, (yes) writing while listening. In fact, I wouldn't recommend driving either. Just listen. Settle in. Close your eyes and be transported. The CD begins with Aaron Copland's arrangement of the traditional Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts." Wissinger's .sparkling rendition cleanses the "auditory palate," setting the tone for the experience to come. Three more Copland works serve to stimulate the listener's imagination and redirect focus.

By the time the aptly titled "Pleasant Song No. I," by Peter Schickele, is heard, Wissinger and Klibonoff have mesmerized the listener into complete submission. What follows is a fascinating 45 minutes or so (give or take a few centuries) of absorbing music from a diverse selection of composers, including the haunting "Canzone" by Samuel Barber; the musically athletic "Three Dances" composed for Wissinger by University of Central Florida professor Stella Sung; and the "Suite Modale for Flute and Piano" by Ernest Bloch.

After "Whales Ween Not!" by Ned Rorem, followed by Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere:' Wissinger begins to gently lead the listener back to the present. From a pair of Stephen Foster tunes, through Grant Foster's reflective "Bayou Home," to Howard Tappan's arrangement of the English hymn "Amazing Grace," Wissinger returns finally to "Simple Gifts:' and the journey is complete. It's a trip you'll want to take again, often.

Wissinger, a resident of Lutz, Fla., performed at The Villages Church on the Square in December 1998. Recognized internationally as a gifted musician and captivating performer, Wissinger has toured extensively in Europe, Russia and the Unit- ed States. She made her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 1984. In 1986 and 1988, Wissinger was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award by Artists International. Some of her teachers have included Julius Baker and Jean-Pierre Rampal.

In addition to touring, Wissinger performs regularly throughout the United States in recitals and with orchestras, and has served as artist-in-residence at colleges and festivals nationwide. A certified teaching professional, she conducts workshops and classes in creative and interdisciplinary learning for young people and is very active in a number of organizations that promote youth development through music, art and storytelling programs.

An accomplished athlete, Wissinger has also played professionally on the U.S. Tennis Association circuit and has taught tennis professionally. She is also a competitive cyclist and runner.

-Jan Walker

Inspiring artistic expression

A wonderful collection of American composers interpreted with beautiful and inspiring artistic expression. Ms. Wissinger's performance demonstrates great artistry and depth, and captures the essence of the musical spirit she evokes. Mr. Klibonoff is masterful and stylistic in his accompaniment. This CD encompasses a broad range of styles and complexities in American Classical music, and is worth a listen!

-Amazon.com reviewer: August 7, 2000

A welcome collection of American music beautifully and expertly played...

The new CD, Amazing Grace: An American Tapestry, is a welcome collection of American music beautifully and expertly played by flutist, Donna Wissinger, and pianist Jon Klibonoff. The disk begins with "Simple Gift: arranged by Aaron Copland. Ms. Wissinger's lovely, full, pure tone sends us through a treasury of American music.

The Copland "Duo" is played very expressively with a variety of dynamics and tone color in both the flute and piano parts. There is energy, drive, and brilliant technique without losing tone quality or clarity. Peter Schickele's "Pleasant Songs" are given a mellow, simple, and indeed pleasant rendition. Samuel Barber's "Canzone" is shaped by the artists with beautiful flowing lines and deeply concentrated feeling. The composition "Three Dances for Flute and Piano" by Stella Sung, is a marvelous addition to the literature. The Andante's intricate and fascinating rhythms and melodies are tossed off with panache by the artists. Playing alone in the Adagio, Ms. Wissinger perfectly captures the improvisational style with a range of emotion and gorgeous color. The Ostinato never lets our attention lag for a moment, and the duo bring it to a dazzling finish. Ms. Wissinger and Mr. Klibonoff continue their excellent ensemble throughout all the selections. In the Ernest Bloch "Suite Modale", they take a very thoughtful approach. There are subtle nuances, much delicacy, elegant long lines, and carefree yet refined style with perfectly spun filigree. The remaining somewhat lighter compositions are charming. They provide the finishing touch to an outstanding recording.

-Sabina Micarelli, Violinist Clara Schumann Trio: August 24, 2000

Amazing Grace costs a spell and lives up to its title

Donna Wissinger and Jon Klibonoff have done a superb job. Their musicianship is genuinely artistry of the first caliber. All the music is vibrantly and sensitively played.

One feels joy, wonderful intelligence and great caring every step of the way in their music making. I was especially struck by their playing of the Copland Duo. What purity of heart in the opening phrases! Clear, beautifully balanced tones that sing out from the soul. I come back to it again and again to taste its utter peacefulness. Each breath a graceful, easy flowing. And the third movement of the piece is so full of fun and fabulously virtuosic. Among my other favorites were the two Stephen Foster pieces: "The Old Folks at Home" and "Oh, Boys Carry Me 'long". They magically re- create the charming spirit of another time and place. The pep and bounce of "Carry me 'long" is absolutely contagious. "Bayou Home" is another miniature masterpiece. William Grant Still is another treasure I would love to hear more of. What is so great about their playing together is that they know how to cast a spell with the music and take the time and care to do it magnificently, generously and for the sake of the music. Jon Klibonoff's work is always fully present, rhythmically alive-simply brilliant. The Howard Tappan arrangements of "Simple Gifts" and "Amazing Grace: are sonorously rich and full of heart, and, in the hands of These artists, absolutely uplifting, indeed, eloquent. I have been privileged to hear these two fine artists in concert on numerous occasion. Amazing Grace: An American Tapestry captures their extraordinary gifts with prize-winning authenticity. Congratulations as well to sound engineer, Jonathan Schultz. I could not recommend this album more highly.

-John Cimino, President & CEO Associated Solo Artists & Creative Leaps International: August 28, 2000

The New York Times
No production should be without an on-stage Miss Wissinger.

The New York Times
...a flutist of rare gifts. Miss Wissinger played beautifully, shaping her phrases elegantly and producing a sound that was both sinuous and sweet. One hopes to hear her again soon...

The Daily Sun
...a soaring spirit of expression that goes far beyond technique

Allied Concert Services
...a consummate professional. Miss Wissinger has not only great musical and technical abilities but also a tremendous facility for making any audience feel a part of the performance.

Jean-Pierre Rampal
Her gifts and abilities as a flutist are rare and compelling. I am greatly impressed by her beautiful sound, exciting musicality, and captivating presence.

Mid-Western Tour
...a great artist with great warmth ...... a tremendous stage personality. Real Renaissance person.

Lavrov, Director Capella Leningrad, USSR
...a star. Miss Wissinger has the sound and the rhythmic vitality of the very best.

Equal Temperament Percussion Duo

Percussive Arts Society - Percussive Notes

Parhelion: Equal Temperament Percussion Duo $17.95
Eroica Classical Recordings

For their new CD, the percussion duo Equal Temperament has selected a program that reflects a broad spectrum of musical parameters and sonic resources.

Jeffrey Peyton's "Rivermusic" and Thomas Brett's "Flyers Fall" are showcases for the mallet-keyboard percussion instruments and are both earmarked by a striking rhythmic vitality.

Rhythm also plays a significant role in David Jarvis's "Digga digga digga digga digga digga digga digga DEE-GOT!" (The title represents a "phonetic representation" of the theme executed by each percussionist utilizing a multi-percussion setup).

Erik Santos' "Zauberkraft" and "Sun Dogs" are both inspired by the mystical poetry of Ranier Maria Rilke and are original musical statements that push the executants to their technical limits.

Jeffrey Peyton's "The Final Precipice" is a dramatic, exhilarating piece for computer-generated tape and five timpani.

The fact that four of the six works on the CD were commissioned by Equal Temperament brings to mind the fact that a healthy symbiotic relationship between good composers and performers continues to be a major factor in the advancement of percussion music as a viable musical art form.

-John R. Raush

Beverly Serra-Brooks

News Review
Artist renders superb performance ... Impeccable credentials, inspired selections, and flawless execution.

-Kathleen Lindstrom

Dramalogue Magazine
An Elegant Pianist.

Los Angeles Times
At her most ebullient, she tossed her head slightly to display her pleasure in the music, which she played beautifully.

Jorg Demus
Musically Impressive

Pasadena Star News
She has the technique of a romantic... powerful hands, soulful expressiveness, full of color and emotion.

Santa Barbara News-Press
Admirable technique, immense fortitude and flair

-Hillary Hauser

San Diego Union Tribune
Much sensitivity and thought, beautifully performed passionate music.

The Independent
This fine pianist and a beauty with flaming red hair, plays with passion, musicianship and considerable stage presence.

-Gerald Carpenter

Bronika Kushkuley

Boston Globe: January 11, 1998
She's absolutely a wonderful musician ... She's brought something from another life.

-Oxana Yablonskaya, renowned concert pianist, Professor of the Juilliard School

Professor Luigi Mostacci, the principal of Piano Department at the Conservatoro, G.B.Martini di Bologna
A very young pianist who plays like an adult concert performer with intelligence and a fabulous technique for such a young age. Brilliant, expressive interpreter of all styles from Bach to Schumann.

James Nalley

Salt Lake Tribune
...a musical sorcerer who captivated the audience's fullest attention

Cleveland Plain Dealer
...a musician with an intriguing gift

Philadelphia Inquirer
...an exciting performer with powerful emotion

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