Édouard Lalo made his mark on French music with his opera Le Roi d’Ys, but his instrumental output also has considerable historical importance, with its resolutely innovative aims for its time. More specifically, his concertante music rewards the attentive ear with a brilliant, skilfully constructed style, studded with fresh rhythmic and harmonic inventions that renew the melodic and orchestral language of the genre.
Leclair’s contribution to music history cannot be overstated. His innovation as a composer revolutionized the French school of violin playing and his playing helped to raise the standard of play- ing in France immeasurably. By weaving together elements of Italian and French music, he created an entirely new compositional style. His duos influenced later composers such as Mozart, de Beriot, Viotti, and closer to our own time, Bartok and Berio.
Respighi’s orchestral music is loved for its lavish, operatic ‘fireworks’, its pomp and circumstance. This recording of his music for violin and piano demonstrates a more tender and intimate side to the composer, and also shows what a master he was of melody. Respighi had many influences from all over Europe and an enthusiasm for German music which perhaps explains the pleasing echoes of Brahms and Schumann among others. The sonatas, especially the later in B minor, are important works of nineteenth-century chamber music, and gems such as the Valse caressante and the Serenata are suffused with lyrical elegance which is perfectly carried off by the wonderful violinist Tanja Becker-Bender.
The seven sonatas for two violins might be the most imaginative and passionate works of the sort since the great Baroque string virtuoso Heinrich Biber, and though they are 'modern' in affect, they are profoundly traditional in tonality. Like Biber's stunning Mystery Sonatas, with their radical scordatura effects, these sonatas push the violinists to their technical limits and keep them there, but not merely for display, rather for emotional intensity…..Giordano Bruno @ Amazon.com
BIS' investigation of Greek composer Nikos Skalkottas' oeuvre is getting into his latest and least-known concerted repertoire with its Skalkottas: Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra (1945). It features violinists Georgios Demertzis and Simos Papanas with Vassilis Christopoulos and the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra in the concerto; the same body supports pianists Maria Asteriadou and Nikolaos Samaltanos in Skalkottas' Concertino (1935) and xylophonist Dimitris Dessyllas in his tiny Characteristic Piece "Nocturnal Amusement" (1949)………..Uncle Dave Lewis @ AllMusic
This disc begins with the thirty-five minute 'Concerto for two Violins', which was never orchestrated, sadly, by Skalkottas, but is played in the version for two pianos and two violins. It is a scintillating three movement composition with a terrifically virtuosic ten minute rondo finale. I ended up breathless and full of admiration for the composer and especially the performers for whom this music cannot have been familiar. It doesn't take long to get into Skalkottas's language. Twelve tone yes but melodic and full of Greek dance rhythms as the first movement demonstrates. A unique blend…….To listen to Skalkottas is a unique experience perhaps a little hairshirt at times but like a glass of Retsina there is nothing else quite as memorable or as addictive.Gary Higginson @ www.musicweb-international.com
Although he himself was a highly gifted composer, Austrian-born Alexander Zemlinsky is today better remembered as the man who taught both Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Wolfgang Korngold than for his own creations. Zemlinsky was born to a Vienna-based Polish family in 1871. After attending the Vienna Conservatory from 1887 to 1892 (first studying piano with Anton Door and later composition with J.N. Fuchs) he joined the Wiener Tonkünstlerverein (Vienna Composer's Society) in 1893. He made the acquaintance of Arnold Schoenberg in 1895, teaching him counterpoint for many months, and thus becoming that remarkable ………
The soloist in all the concertos of our recording is Josef Suk (1929), the grandson of the composer Josef Suk (1874-1935) and great- grandson of Antonin Dvorak. Since 1954, he has been pursuing an uninterrupted and diversified solo career and has become the most eminent Czech violin virtuoso of his generation. Suk's partner in Bach's Concerto for Two Violins is the Czech violin virtuoso Ladislav Jasek (1929), who has been active in Australia since the early 1970's. The oboe part in the Double Concerto in D minor BWV 1060a is played by Jan Adamus (1951).