STRAVINSKY: Duo Concertant / Suite Italienne / BACH,J. S.:Partita No. 1 in B minor / Sonata No.1 in G minor (ECM)

by | Jun 2, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

STRAVINSKY: Duo Concertant / Suite Italienne / BACH,J.
S.:Partita No. 1 in B minor / Sonata No.1 in G minor – Leonidas
Kavakos, Violin / Peter Nagy, Piano….ECM New Series 1855 B0003847-02
..1  ***:

It is said that Igor Stravinsky was working on a Bach transcription
upon his deathbed. This linkage between these two musical giants of the
17th and 20th century is underscored by the interpretations of the four
selections on this CD.

The cool  detached lucidity of these performances binds this music
together across three centuries.  No longer “baroque’ or “modern”
music, these are great musical works of Art, which have shed their
historical designation and are revealed in their similarity.That
Stravinsky was inspired by Bach is without question after listening to
these performances.The elegant structure of the Stravinsky Duo
Concertant with its harmonic and rhythmic interlocking of the violin
and piano melodies references the Bach Violin/ Keyboard Sonatas in
grace and style. This work, and the Suite Italienne drawn by Stravinsky
from his Pulcinella, are performed with impeccable clarity, beauty and
absolute committment by Kavakos/Nagy.

The Bach selections: Partita No1 and Sonata No.1 recieve a beautifully
phrased and paced if somewhat dispassionate reading by Leonidas
Kavakos. Student of the eminent Josef Gingold and winner of first prize
at the Naumberg and Paganini Competitions in 1988, Mr.Kavakos performs
on the  “Falmouth” Stradivarius. The magnificent silver tone he
creates, however lacks the range of a baroque violin with its throaty
and at times, guttural  but authentically baroque exclamations.

The recording by ECM in the radio studio of DRS in Zurich was made in
October 2002. The sound is intimate-so much so, that Mr. Kavakos’
breathing is quite audible. I am not a fan of Glenn Gould’s
humming/grunting accompaniment to his marvelous Bach performances, and
am similarly distracted by Kavakos’ conspicuous breathing present
throughout this otherwise compelling release. Recommended! 
(with  decongestant)
                                                                                                                     
— Ronald Legum

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