Structural weakness precluded Grieg's violin sonatas from being regarded as masterpieces. For instance, contrasting themes often jump from one to another without smooth transition. Yet it would be a most remorseful thing to dismiss these pieces as second-rate or mediocre, for they are among the most palatable dishes of violin music. The enchanting melodies are all of captivating beauty, and the essentially light-hearted music is in turn passionate, expressive, bittersweet, exuberant, and vigorous.
Violinist Aleksey Semenenko writes of this new release: “I decided to make it the central focus of this album by placing Schubert’s Fantasy in C after Paganini’s ‘I Palpiti’ Variations. After hearing him play in concert, Schubert was so impressed by Paganini’s technique and style that he wanted to write something similarly virtuosic, which eventually resulted in the Fantasy in C major. Some passages are indeed on a par with anything Paganini has written. However, Schubert adapted the music into his own symphonic style. In Schubert’s Fantasy in C, technical brilliance is always at the service of the musical idea. Furthermore, Schubert is not as interested in the individual instrumental parts as Paganini was.” In addition to the Paganini and Schubert, Semenenko has included works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. “Stunning technique and intonation, verve, wit, (and) beautiful phrasing.” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer) “an unparalleled level of refined musicianship and stage presence.” (The Strad)
The revival of Spanish music of the Baroque period continues moving forward into the Classical era with this premiere recording of sonatas for "violin y bajo" – violin and bass – by Juan de Ledesma. The sonatas were rediscovered only in the late 1980s, and they're very elegantly presented here in a package adorned by a reproduction of a marvelous French fan of the period. There isn't anything of earthshaking importance among the five sonatas on the disc, but they're attractive pieces with some challenges for the violinist, and both players of the instruments and those with collections of Spanish music will find the release of interest. The booklet notes by violinist Blai Justo (in English, French, and German, with Spanish and Catalan additionally available online) point to Corelli's influence, but also note the presence of the galant style of the period, and it is the latter sound, with its atmosphere of charm and its relaxed procession of contrasting two-measure phrases, that predominates. The players do well to avoid a harpsichord accompaniment, using either a combination of cello and guitar or one or the other instrument alone.
Johann Sebastian Bach played the violin “cleanly and with a penetrating tone…” At the time his son CPE Bach wrote this phrase to a musicologist and Bach’s early biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel in 1774, the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin were known to a relatively small but steadily growing circle of enthusiasts. Although the demand problem was eventually solved by the appearance of the first printed editions around the turn of the century, it took another five decades before Bach’s sonatas and partitas came to the attention of a broader public. Arrangements of the violin solos for other instruments offer new expressive opportunities. For this album, Florian Klaus Rumpf has transcribed and recorded the first three of the six violin solos for the mandolin. Florian Klaus Rumpf decided to begin studying mandolin at the age of seven. In 2006 Florian entered the University of Music and Dance in Wuppertal, where he studied the modern mandolin and a wide range of historical instruments, including the six-course Baroque mandolin and the 8-course mandolone. He is in high demand as a soloist, tutor, and conductor of mandolin orchestras.
Britain-to-Scotland transplant Sally Beamish wasn't just self-taught as an orchestral composer: you might say she learned by doing. According to her notes on this BIS release, one of a group covering her orchestral output, she had never written an orchestral piece or even studied orchestration when the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, commissioned her Symphony No. 1 in 1994. The result was a work full of unusual sonorities, rather loosely woven but constantly surprising, that drew on various features (formal and textural, not tonal) of the music of Scotland.