Yevgeny Kutik – The Death of Juliet – Marquis Records

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

The Death of Juliet and Other Tales = Works by PROKOFIEV, LARIONOV (complete listing below) – Yevgeny Kutik, Violin  Anna Polonsky, Piano – Marquis Records 774718162328 (12/18/21)  57:52 [MVD Entertainment] ****:

Yevgeny Kutik (b 1985) hails from Belarusian-American roots, a pupil of Roman Totenberg, who nurtured Kutik’s rhapsodic, gypsy sound. Kutik made a big premiere with the Boston Pops in 2003, with his concert led by Keith Lockhart. This collation, recorded 26-27 August 2021, combines Kutik’s studies of Prokofiev with Totenberg and his innate love for folk and children’s tunes that fertilized his imagination as a youth and has since evolved to seek out such impulses in classical masters.

While Kutik’s chosen instrument remains unidentified, its razory, rasping tone makes an excellent vehicle for the Prokofiev works on this program. The 1947 Solo Sonata, intended as a pedagogical work, came about through the auspices of the Soviet Union Committee of Arts Affairs, so the piece remains subdued to the taste of approved dogma. Like the Sonata’s first performer, Ruggiero Ricci, Kutik imbues the classical structure with an interior excitement, even if the syntax tends to the diatonic. The second movement, Adagio, elicits a sweet set of five variations, while the last movement, Allegretto evolves as an attractive mazurka.

Pianist Anna Polonsky joins with Kutik for an extroverted and eminently persuasive collaboration in Prokofiev’s 1944 transcription of what was originally a D Major Flute Sonata, adapted for the violin for virtuoso David Oistrakh. Pina Carmirelli first revealed its easy charm to this reviewer.  Here, Kutik imparts through the four movements grace, playful verve, ardent lyricism with a touch of jazz, and a bouncing, buoyant finale. Despite the wartime context of its composition, the work reveals little of the dark angst of the piano sonatas of the period.

The eponymous transcription for the violin of Juliet’s Death from the epic ballet score proves as effective as the solo piano version from the suite of 10 pieces, Op. 75. Fiercely passionate and fraught with romantic anguish the music holds up quite well for a chamber music presentation, as intimate as it is colorful. So, too, the various folk and children’s pieces, which captivate with an innate lyricism, even if the “Song of the Volga Boatmen” rings with stentorian heartbreak.

This tribute to the Belarusian spirit and to Kutik’s Jewish heritage tends to remind me of the valor depicted in Edward Zwick’s 2008 film Defiance, which recounts the Jews’ armed resistance to Nazi tyranny.  To find consoling song rising out of the ashes says a great deal about human resilience.

–Gary Lemco

The Death of Juliet and Other Tales:

PROKOFIEV (arr. Borisovsky): Parting Scene and Death of Juliet from Op. 67
Traditional (arr. Kutik): V Lesu Rodilas Elochka
Traditional (arr. Gandolff): Song of the Volga Boatmen
LARIONOV: Kalinka for Solo Violin
PROKOFIEV: Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 115
Traditional (arr. Kulik): V Pole Bereza Stoyala
Traditional (arr. Gandolff): Yablochka
PROKOFIEV: Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 94bis

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