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Stravinsky: Suite Italienne etc; Viktoria Mullova & Katia Labeque Recital CD


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Product details

  • Composer: Clara Schumann, Franz Schubert, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel
  • Audio CD (30 Oct. 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Onyx
  • ASIN: B000J20D6U
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,999 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Suite Italienne
2. Fantasie for Violin and Piano in C Major, D934
3. Sonate Pour Violon Et Piano
4. Romanze Für Violine Und Klavier, Op. 22

Product Description

CD Description

Ranging from the Schubert Fantasy of 1827 to Stravinsky s 1933 Suite Italienne, this collection spans a tremendously exciting 100 years, in which music changed radically, rapidly and irreversibly. These works demonstrate the massive alterations wrought in those years; the contrast between the Romanticism of Schubert and Clara Schumann, and the innovation of Ravel and Stravinsky. Yet Stravinsky s use of Baroque music and Ravel s appropriation of jazz show that the 20th century embraced diverse influences, including those of the past. Viktoria Mullova and Katia Labèque have played this recital together many times, and, as is clear from this recording, relish each composer s distinctive approach to writing for violin and piano. It was Diaghilev who first suggested that Stravinsky should draw inspiration from Pergolesi when composing the ballet Pulcinella. Stravinsky was at first hesitant, daunted at the prospect of re-working music by a composer whom he much admired, but any qualms were overcome on discovering that the production would feature choreography by Massine and design by Picasso. When Stravinksy set about his task: ... the work filled me with joy. The material I had at my disposal ... made me appreciate more and more the true nature of Pergolesi while discerning ever more clearly the closeness of my mental and, so to speak, sensory kinship with him. It has since been discovered that not all of the fragments used by Stravinsky were correctly attributed to Pergolesi, but this cannot diminish the quality of the resultant music, which set the precedent for Stravinsky s later Neo-Classical works: Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible. It was a backward look, of course, but it was a look in the mirror, too. Pulcinella was transcribed three times, as a Suite for violin and piano (1925), as a Suite Italienne for cello and piano, and as the Suite Italienne for violin and piano heard here. This version was made by Stravinsky and violinist Samuel Dushkin for use on their concert tours. The work opens with two movements vivacious and sombre taken from the start of the ballet, in which Stravinksy leaves the original Baroque elements essentially intact. For the next four movements Stravinsky selected material from the end of the work, and it is here that his own mannerisms elliptical phrasing, complex rhythmic units and vibrant splashes of colour come to the fore, at once decorating and transforming the original music. Schubert s Fantasy in C for violin and piano was written in 1827 for the young Czech virtuoso Josef Slawjk, and was premiered in January 1828, the year of the composer s death. As with the Trout Quintet and Wanderer Fantasy, the Fantasy uses one of Schubert s own songs, in this case Sei mir gegrüsst I greet you , D741, of 1822, during the Andantino variations at the heart of the work. However, the Fantasy is astonishingly atypical of Schubert s output. Fiendishly difficult to perform, Schubert s focus when writing this piece seems to have been virtuosity, something he did not usually prize for all the difficulty of other of his works as a musical objective. Nevertheless, this dazzling display is underpinned by an intricate multi-sectional structure: Andante molto (in 6/8) Allegretto (2/4) Andantino (variations in 3/4) Tempo primo (a shortened reprise of the opening) Allegro vivace (4/4) Allegretto (a final variation postponed from the Andantino) and a Presto coda. The key areas hinge around C and its circle of thirds, A minor/major, A flat and E flat.

Review

Many big-name duos have the appearance and sounds of marrriages of convenience, brought together by record companies during a brief window in hectic schedules to spend a couple of days in the studio. Sometimes it works, but the results often reflect the superficiality of the relationship. There is no danger of that in this marvellous new disc from Viktoria Mullova and Katia Labeque. They have been performing together regularly for years, and this disc has the feel of a genuine recital, a true partnership. The hushed opening of Schubert's Fantasie is magical, with the early mist gradually clearing for a journey full of genial joie de vivre. Mullova's slides in Ravel's Sonata, captured in fine sound, have the fluidity and freedom that can only be achieved when understanding between violinist and pianist runs deep, while the pacing of the Perpetuum mobile is masterly. It might be thought that the Ravel would be closest in spirit to Stravinsky, but the Schubert emerges as its more natural partner. Not that the Suite Italienne is at all lacking in elan, though some might prefer a more driven rhythmic approach. Clara Schumann's Romanze is a sublime postlude to an imaginative and enjoyable disc. ***** --BBC Music Magazine, JAN 2007 -

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 16 May 2009
Format: Audio CD
Five OUTSTANDING Stars!! These are splendid, elegant, and sometimes blazing performances of four classical violin/piano masterpieces by the prodigiously talented Russian-born violinist Viktoria Mullova & French-born master pianist Katia Labeque of "the Labeque sisters" piano duo fame, among her other notable musical endeavors. As the CD cover photo indicates, these talented highly individualistic musicians virtually meld into one musical persona for these performances, creating a formidable duo that has played these pieces many times before in public. This celebrated recording is the first documentation of their 'duo excellence' playing the 'period-jumping' singular music of Igor Stravinsky, Franz Schubert, Maurice Ravel, and Clara Wieck Schumann for those of us not fortunate enough to have seen them perform publicly.

The 'best of the best', begins with the elegant "Allegro Moderato" and the fiery non-stop "Tarantella" movement of Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne" which is beautifully played by Mullova and Labeque in this work that continued Stravinsky's elaboration on the Commedia delArte "Pulcinella" character, originally in his famous opera. Schubert's "Fantasie" gets a very elegant reading with the duo showing their great familiarity with this marvelous piece: this version is played with 'relaxed intensity' and splendid pacing and has become my favorite version. In their blazing interpretation of Ravel's wonderful expression of the 20th Century, the "Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major", the "Perpetuum mobile" movement captures the frenetic pace of the century and surprisingly near the end we hear echos of "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, a close friend whom Ravel greatly admired.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
CLASSICAL STARS MULLOVA & LABEQUE IN A SPLENDID 'PERIOD-JUMPING' RECITAL 19 Aug. 2007
By RBSProds - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Five OUTSTANDING Stars!! These are splendid, elegant, and sometimes blazing performances of four classical violin/piano masterpieces by the prodigiously talented Russian-born violinist Viktoria Mullova & French-born master pianist Katia Labeque of "the Labeque sisters" piano duo fame, among her other notable musical endeavors. As the CD cover photo indicates, these talented highly individualistic musicians virtually meld into one musical persona for these performances, creating a formidable duo that has played these pieces many times before in public. This celebrated recording is the first documentation of their 'duo excellence' playing the 'period-jumping' singular music of Igor Stravinsky, Franz Schubert, Maurice Ravel, and Clara Wieck Schumann for those of us not fortunate enough to have seen them perform publicly.

The 'Pieces De Resistance, the best of the best, begin with the elegant "Allegro Moderato" and the fiery non-stop "Tarantella" movement of Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne" which is beautifully played by Mullova and Labeque in this work that continued Stravinsky's elaboration on the Commedia delArte "Pulcinella" character, originally in his famous opera. Schubert's "Fantasie" gets a very elegant reading with the duo showing their great familiarity with this marvelous piece: this version is played with 'relaxed intensity' and splendid pacing and has become my favorite version. In their blazing interpretation of Ravel's wonderful expression of the 20th Century, the "Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major", the "Perpetuum mobile" movement captures the frenetic pace of the century and surprisingly near the end we hear echos of "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin, a close friend whom Ravel greatly admired. "The Blues" movement is another great expression of Ravel's desire to use some of the popular music forms of the times and Mullova is marvelous in her soulful arco passages and her pizzicato cadences against Labeque's declarative bluesy phrases. And finally a stupendous, very emotional reading of Clara Schumann's "Romanze for Violin and Piano", especially the mid-performance low note crescendo of Mullova's violin, which closes out the recital. In all, a totally enjoyable vituoso recital by this wonderfully empathetic musical duo and it deserves My Highest Recommendation. Five ENJOYABLE Stars!!

(This review is based on an iTunes download. BTW, Labeque's name is misspelled in the product hyperlink.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Schubert Fantasy is the stand-out in this rather short, off-kilter recital 21 April 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This impressive CD follows up on several similar recitals made for Philips before Mullova switched to Onyx. As an artist-driven label, Onyx has attracted star talent and offers them good sound as well as greater liberty over what they want to play. I'm not sure that Mullova puts her best foot forward in Stravinsky's witty Suite Italienne, adapted from Pulcinella. When set for cello, the transcription has a droll mournfulness missing form the violin version. Also, Mullova's talent, deep as it is, doesn't extend to humor, and tis is a rather plain-faced reading, not to mention that the music itself is slight.

The next work, however, is an undoubted masterpiece, and she is quite impressive. Schubert's late Fantasy in CD doesn't call upon any Paganini-like fireworks; it's often so simple that it can be played by a reasonably adept student. But its mood is enigmatic and requires all the subtlety a musician can bring to it. Especially lovely is the third movement, the longest, which is a set of variations on the haunting song "Sei mir gegrusst," expressive of joy and melancholy finely merging. Of the three versions that I know (the other two being Gideon Kremer's and Isaac Stern's), this one is the most mysterious and nuanced. Mullova's partner, Katia Labque of the duo piano sisters, plays with surprising finesse. The Fantasy seems to arrive from another world, with the violin keening a long melody while the piano part ripples with rewnikia. The simplicity of the writing calls forth from Mullova an inward-looking reading that I found captivating.

Very early in her career Mullova recorded the Ravel Sonata in G, which must be a favorite. It's a piquant work that hides a soul beneath apparent frivolity, as was Ravel's wont. The first movement is like a shimmering moto perpetuo with a second theme close to Debussy. the second movement, marked 'Blues,' begins with doublte-stopped pizzicatos and moves into a Stephane Grappelli-like jazz mode out of a cabaret; the piano imitates a tom-tom drum but soon finds its own angular jazz dance. The third movement is actually marked Perpetuum mobile and sounds like Flight of the Bumblebee taking a detour into Paris. The program ends with a two-minute Romanze by Clara Schumann that is a Rosetti lyric set to music; more a page from a remembrance book than anything substantial.

At just over 52 min., this isn't a generous offering, and the only two works I cared about were the Schubert and the Ravel. Even so, Mullova's is effortless in its accomplished artistry.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Everything but the audience 11 May 2012
By P. Mander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This CD, released in 2006, is a recital of works by Stravinsky, Schubert, Ravel and Clara Schumann that Viktoria Mullova and Katia Labèque have, as the sleeve notes confirm, performed many times. And I have listened to it many times. But excellent though it is, I'm always left with a slight feeling of something missing.

All the notes are there, possibly even extra ones, and the music is beautifully articulated as one would expect from artists of this calibre. But somehow it doesn't always fully project in the way I expected, and my hunch is that what the fabled duo needed to lift this recital into 5-star class was a live audience to connect with.

There's a hint of caution in their playing at times too, as if the focal point occasionally shifts to avoiding slips in preference to letting loose - I'm thinking especially of the Blues movement of the Ravel Sonata. À propos, I'm fairly sure that the tremolo (if that is the correct term) Labèque plays on the closing chord is not in the original score, but it's a lovely touch.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Step aside, let the ladies drive... 12 Mar. 2008
By The Man in the Hathaway Shirt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You do get the impression when you look at this CD that that's what they said: two women play, a rarely-heard woman composer is included. A woman writes the liner notes (excellent ones they are), a woman did the art direction for the CD, and a woman owns the record label. You wonder why Oprah isn't plugging this the way she did Simone Dinnerstein.

But Dinnerstein, to me, was about as exciting as sleeping gas. This recital is magnetic, on the other hand. I can imagine the conversation:

KLB: They want us to record some Mozart sonatas.
VM: Did they really say that?
KLB: No, they actually said they wanted us to record Moe-zart sonatas.
VM: That's what I figured.
KLB: [Bleep] it, let's do our own album, and load it with pieces we love that aren't recorded enough, if at all.
VM: Let's cross centuries and styles, but have the music link from piece to piece tonally, so what we play seems like one complete coherent thought that spans the gamut.
KLB: I agree. I hate albums that feel obligated to pair Ravel with Debussy, or the Schumann piano concerto with the Grieg Piano Concerto, or Schubert with...Schubert.
VM: You know what I really hate? Brahms symphony albums. The filler piece is ALWAYS the Haydn Variations!!
KLB: You know it, girl.

What we have here is a very intelligently-programmed album of some pieces that may not be as familiar as they should be. They seem to flow into one another with a special logic, one that eschews concerns for time and style but pays attention to mood and tonality. Admittedly I'm not too familiar with these works, so my judgment is a little less sure-footed than usual, but that's only because they are simply not programmed as often as they should be, and that's a shame. The Stravinsky, the most familiar piece, is a delight and spans several styles itself, sort of the album in microcosm. The Ravel is a blast and should be heard more often; the bluesy interlude is unique and a joy. I wish they'd gotten a little more unhinged here, a little more spontaneous and free, but this is still a very enjoyable performance. The Schubert is the real standout work, however. It's unusual for him, strongly atmospheric, almost avant-garde, with a bent towards virtuosity--unusual for him. Don't expect the typical gay song-like character. I agree with Dan Davis in his Amazon editorial review when he says it doesn't contain the mystery and drama in the recordings by Joseph Szigeti and Adolph Busch, and it would not replace them in my collection. However, it's a welcome performance in its own right. The Clara Schumann encore is a wisp that's gone before we're even really sure it's there, a brief coda to this adventurous and original recital. It seems to flow seamlessly from the Ravel.

Admittedly, there are times I'd like to have heard the sparks fly a little more. They can be too cautious, a little too concerned with not messing up instead of taking chances. Still, this is a refreshing album that just goes to show, being it is on the Lebeque sisters' own indie label, what could be accomplished in classical music if the artists had more control and the marketers were tied to chairs with duct tape. Highly recommended, and I hope there's more to come.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Viktoria Mullova & Katia Lebeque in Recital 8 April 2008
By GAC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These two ladies combine very well together for a rather unusual repertoire of very fine music. And Viktoria is simply fantastic; I'm in love with this woman and the way she plays the violin.
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