SOUNDS OF AMERICA
Piet Koornhof: incendiary playing in a series of virtuoso bonbons and cello, which must make proponents of those instruments inordinately happy. These little masterpieces, originally conceived for students, appear simple on the surface but their folksy content requires nuanced treatment, which they receive in abundance in Rodland and Kluksdahl’s thoughtful and buoyant performances.
The musicians had a chance to confer with Peter Bartók about the duos, and their connections with two of the three other composers on this disc generated the solos they play. Read Thomas’s Dream Catcher for solo viola (originally for solo violin) is a burst of expressive ideas, which the composer describes as ‘captured improvisation’. Rodland shapes the piece with vibrant fluidity, tracing its surprising flights as if they were cogent ideas popping into her head. Kluksdahl’s solo outing is Del Tredici’s Cello Acrostic, based on an aria from his Final Alice and verses from Through the Looking Glass. The cellist conveys the aura of fantasy in a reading of disarming songfulness. The musicians collaborate once again in Piston’s Duo, to whose neo‑classical writing they apply vividly poised and lyrical touches. Donald Rosenberg
‘On Fire’ ‘The Virtuoso Violin’ Glazunov Meditation, Op 32 Dvarionas Pezzo elegiaco Kabalevsky Rondo, Op 69 Karayev Waltz Kreisler Tambourin chinois, Op 3 Kroll Banjo and
Fiddle Rota Improvviso Skoryk Melody. Spanish Dance Taneyev Romance, Op 26 No 6 Toldrà Six Sonnets Wieniawski Polonaises – No 1, Op 4; No 2, Op 21. Scherzo-tarantelle, Op 16 Ysaÿe Violin Sonata No 3, ‘Ballade’ Piet Koornhof vn Bernarda Vorster pf Delos B b DE3479 (101’ • DDD)
The title doesn’t begin to tell the story of Piet Koornhof’s musical sensibility. While many of the works on his two-disc set call for a soloist of the highest technical accomplishment, the South African violinist avoids taking a scorched-earth approach to the repertoire. He is a keenly sensitive musician who places the dazzling aspects in discerning context.
You won’t hear Koornhof show off, in other words, just to show off. In the most acrobatic pieces, such as Wieniawski’s Polonaises and Ysaÿe’s Third Sonata for solo violin, he treats the tricky flights – large leaps, multiple stops, racing scales – not as isolated bursts but as part of the overall narrative. Tempi are judicious, sometimes spacious, and never driven. Koornhof makes sure notes are dead-centre in intonation, however fleetly they pass by, and that every gesture has a meaningful direction.
With his excellent pianist, Bernarda Vorster, Koornhof plays a host of bonbons by composers including Glazunov, Kabalevsky, Kreisler and Nino Rota. But he also devotes a fair share of the discs to less heralded figures: William Kroll, Balys Dvarionas, Myroslav Skoryk, Sergey Taneyev and Eduard Toldrà. Koornhof advocates warmly for Toldrà, a Spanish Catalan violinist and composer, whose Six Sonnets are evocative essays based on poetry by Catalan poets. Virtuosity, as Koornhof demonstrates in these pieces, often means bringing something special to music of subtle lyricism and charm. Donald Rosenberg
‘The Spirio Sessions’ Caine Improvisation on Mozart’s Piano Sonata, K545. Nine Miniatures – for solo piano; for two pianos Gesualdo Beltà, poi che t’assenti. Itene, o miei sospiri. Non mai non cangerò. O dolce mio tesoro Mozart Piano Sonata No 16, K545 – Allegro D Scarlatti Keyboard Sonatas – Kk27; Kk455; Kk492 Uri Caine, Jenny Lin pfs Steinway & Sons F STNS30044 (58’ • DDD)
Spirio is a highresolution player system developed by Steinway that captures gramophone.co.uk
GRAMOPHONE JUNE 2016 V