Itamar Zorman Portrait = Works of MESSIAEN; CHAUSSON; SCHUBERT; HINDEMITH ; BRAHMS – Itamar Zorman, violin/ Kwan Yi, piano – Profil Edition Hanssler

by | Mar 8, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

Itamar Zorman Portrait = MESSIAEN: Theme et Variations; CHAUSSON: Poeme, Op. 25; SCHUBERT : Rondo in B Minor, D. 895; HINDEMITH: Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 31, No. 1; BRAHMS: Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108 – Itamar Zorman, violin/ Kwan Yi, piano – Profil Edition Hanssler PH 14039, (2/10/15) 75:05 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Israeli violinist Itamar Zorman (b. 1985) makes his debut recital album (rec. 5-6 October 2013) with a program embracing his personal favorites, which range among French and German masterpieces. An alumnus of the Kronberg Academy, Zorman studied with Sylvia Rosenberg, while receiving personal attention from Christian Tetzlaff. Zorman plays a wiry-toned 1745 instrument from the collection of Yehuda Zisapel.

The opening selection, Olivier Messaien’s 1932 Theme et Variations, offers and nine-and-one-half minute work that exemplifies the composer’s lyric and declamatory style, a Gallic version of Ernest Bloch in its mix of audacity and personal doxology. The theme and its five variations proceed from a relatively conservative song to a more martial tenor that ends on unresolved cadences. The piano part, executed by Kwan Yi, itself moves from an unobtrusive to a decidedly aggressive and prominent role.

The Schubert 1826 Rondo in B Minor served as a showpiece for Schubert’s contemporary Josef Slavik and proved no less effective for Yehudi Menuhin and Joseph Szigeti. The keyboard part, too, moves in alternately liquid and stentorian motion, especially as both players announce a Neapolitan chord of earnest intent. Schubert appears to have condensed much of the ferociously intense Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata into a single movement. Piano and violin trade voices and voice-entries, often substituting thirds dominant progressions. The figures often sprint in passionate waves of sound, martial and lyrical at once. Out of the welter of competing sonorities a lovely melody arises In chromatic half steps. The happy sympathy between Zorman and Yi guarantees a reading of exquisitely refined fire.

Ernest Chausson arranged his own 1896 Poeme for violin and piano – dedicated to Eugene Ysaye – having based its original program on a novella by Ivan Turgenev, Le Chant de l’amour triumphant, a love-triangle with mystical elements. The violin part, opening with a solo cadenza in double stops, asks for playing close to the bridge to achieve a wiry, eerie quality. Zorman applies a chaste vibrato this quite sensuously driven score, which often soars in raptures that echo harmonies Chausson admired in Wagner’s Tristan.  The quality of a waltz-dream infiltrates the progressive pages of this marvelous piece, which every virtuoso violinist performs for its gemlike perfection of form and emotional color palette, often in high tessitura.

Paul Hindemith had trained as a violinist prior to his “conversion” to the viola, and he composed the 1924 Solo Sonata for Licco Amar of the eponymous Amar Quartet.  In five brief movements, the Sonata exhibits qualities of a Baroque suite, particularly – in its longest movement, Sehr langsame Viertel – the Bach Sonata in C Major. The “motoric” movements contrast the more expressive moments, of which the fourth, Intermezzo: Lied, proves responsive to Zorman’s expressive abilities. The Prestissimo finale plays like an etude for fast filigree in delicately nuanced colors and high tessitura, a modern Paganini caprice.

The long-familiar 1886 D Minor Sonata of Johannes Brahms receives sweet, long-lined sympathy from our two principals, dramatic and lyrically nostalgic, as required. The leisurely 3/8 Adagio achieves a quality of reminiscence in the Schumann vein, as does the “sweet dalliance” of the Un poco presto e con sentimento third movement, with its sudden explosion of grand passion. The potent 6/8 Presto agitato evokes the same vital force we find in the last movement of the Chopin B Minor Sonata. An impassioned series of violin double stops moves in the manner of wild tarantella, in which even the secondary C Major tune seems superheated. We have met Mr. Zorman in France and Germany, and we look forward to further musical geography on such ambitious terms.

—Gary Lemco

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