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Gimbel, Allen
American Record Guide, May 2009

Except for the 1963 Violin Sonata, the other three pieces on this program are arrangements, two from Corigliano’s score for the forgettable film The Red Violin, and the other of the incessantly recorded Fantasia on an Ostinato (the theme of the slow movement of Beethoven 7).

Ms Bieler, formerly of the Melos Quartet and currently based in Frankfurt, can’t compete with Joshua Bell in this repertoire, whose definitive account of the sonata may be heard on Sony (J/F 2008) along with the Red Violin Concerto, which is the source for the Chaconne arrangement heard here (it’s the Concerto’s first movement). It escapes me why anyone would want to hear—much less pay for—what amounts to a rehearsal run-through of a concert work. Along the same lines, Caprices is a set of variations for solo violin of the sappy ‘Anna’s Theme’ that runs through the film (the soundtrack is available on Sony 63010, S/O 1999). Those two pieces are incongruously interrupted by the Fantasia, which takes particularly poorly to violin and piano reduction.

This is an unnecessary release and not especially well played.

Peter Dickinson
Gramophone, May 2009

Red is the colour in fine performances of sparkling minimalist violin music

Corigliano’s early Violin Sonata is now a repertoire piece with this sparkling performance at least the fifth recording. It offers the performers plenty of display and yet contains lyrical passages such as the second movement where Corigliano’s individual voice emerges.

The Red Violin Chaconne and The Red Violin Caprices come from Corigliano’s score for Francois Guiraud’s 1997 film: so does The Red Violin Concerto written for Joshua Bell. For the film Corigliano admits he wrote avowedly romantic music with fewer inhibitions and it shows in the concert works derived from it.

The Chaconne is an extended series of variations elaborating the Red Violin theme, heard unaccompanied as the first of the caprices. The variations meander gently but contain energetic passages over dotted rhythms: the source is easy to follow. The Caprices are demanding solos with Bieler well in control.

The Fantasia on an Ostinato—again at least the fifth recording—is based on the repeated-note figure in the Allegretto of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and ends with a direct quote. The overall texture is Corigliano’s qualified response to minimalism. All fine performances, well recorded.

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, May 2009

The Red Violin, François Girard’s 1998 film about a spirit-possessed violin, was John Corigliano’s third film score. While the film has not met with universal acclaim, the score won an Oscar for the composer in 2000, and he has used themes from it—especially the Chaconne and a theme associated with the violin-maker’s wife—in several works since. He wrote the Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra as the film was being shot. He then added three more movements to create the brilliant Red Violin Concerto, adapted the Chaconne for piano accompaniment, and most recently has taken up the themes again to create The Red Violin Caprices, a challenging set of variations for solo violin. These, and a suite from the score with the original strings-only orchestration, were written for Joshua Bell, who provided the solo work in the soundtrack.

This recital is, in content at least, an excellent prospectus of Corigliano’s works for violin and piano. Ida Bieler and Nina Tichman have included the two chamber Red Violin works, as well as his youthful Sonata for Violin and Piano, a Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds award winner in 1964, and the challenging Fantasia on an Ostinato, a solo piano work originally written as a piece for the 1986 Van Cliburn competition. This is one of seven releases Naxos has dedicated completely or substantially to Corigliano’s works—a project I heartily endorse…this is music that cries out for the talent of extraordinary artists.

“Joshua plays like a god!” Corigliano declared when he accepted his Oscar. Deities are hard to follow, and though Ida Bieler is a gifted violinist, interpretively she can’t touch Bell’s subtle shading and thrilling abandon…

Robert R Riley, March 2009

As is evident from Snapshot…Corigliano can write a beautiful melody whenever he wants to. I doubt if he has written anything more beautiful than the long-lined theme to The Red Violin, the movie score for which he won an Academy Award in 1997. Corigliano has used themes from this score in a number of ways, including in a full Red Violin Concerto, written for Joshua Bell. In a new Naxos release of his Music for Violin and Piano, he employs the theme as the basis for The Red Violin: Chaconne, an extremely fine and very attractive set of variations. The theme is also the basis for The Red Violin Caprices for solo violin, which are both virtuosic and highly engaging. Corigliano’s early Sonata for Violin and Piano, a very sprightly piece, rounds out the CD, along with the Fantasia on an Ostinato for piano, which show that Corigliano can mix Minimalism and a passage from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony successfully. Violinist Ida Bieler and pianist Nina Tichman both shine in this ingratiating program.

Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News, February 2009

The American-born Ila Bieler has spent most of her career in Europe, but she clearly hasn’t lost her touch for John Corigliano’s idiom. She gets both the delicacy and the grandeur of the early Violin Sonata, which starts out like Stravinsky’s Duo concertant but goes to some odder places. The two works that the composer developed from his soundtrack for The Red Violin, a Chaconne and five Caprices, are tossed up with the ultimate in virtuosic fire. Nina Tichman, whose history is much like Bieler’s, is an admirable partner throughout.

Lawson Taitte, February 2009

Naxos released a very similar program performed by other soloists a year ago. Whatever the label’s impulse to have another go, the present players do themselves proud. The American-born Ila Bieler has spent most of her career in Europe, but she clearly hasn’t lost her touch for John Corigliano’s idiom. She gets both the delicacy and the grandeur of the early Violin Sonata, which starts out like Stravinsky’s Duo concertant but goes to some odder places. The two works that the composer developed from his soundtrack for The Red Violin, a Chaconne and five Caprices, are tossed up with the ultimate in virtuosic fire.

Nina Tichman, whose history is much like Bieler’s, is an admirable partner throughout. Many Texas music lovers will remember the solo work she plays, Fantasia on an Ostinato, from the 1985 Cliburn competition. I don’t recall, however, that any of the semifinalists who gave the joint world premiere then made this much of the piece, which takes off from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. © 2009

James Manheim, February 2009

This disc could serve anyone as an introduction to the music of John Corigliano, whose sympathetic treatment of the violin may derive from his status the son of a longtime New York Philharmonic Orchestra violinist…the program samples several aspects of Corigliano’s output, from his youthful Sonata for violin and piano, very much in the vein of his conservative conservatory models, to a pair of works derived from the score for The Red Violin, which has been a profitable lode of music for the composer. The Fantasia on an Ostinato (1985) is more often heard in its orchestral version, and it takes a bit of mental adjustment to get the sound of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, on which the ostinato is based, out of one’s head. However, this was the original version of the piece, and the music has a fine, minimal, hypnotic quality here. Both violinist Ida Bieler and pianist Nina Tichman are American-born and—trained but now live and teach in Germany, and both heed Corigliano’s dictum, expressed in connection with the Fantasia but applicable elsewhere, that “color, variety, and imagination” are essential in the performance of his music. Tichman’s performance of the Fantasia has an especially nice grasp of Corigliano’s particular take on minimalism in that work, which is undeniably influenced by that movement but has a personal quality the performer must be careful not to lose. The recording by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne is another plus.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2009

John Corigliano belongs to that growing number of American composers who are building bridges to reach the vast number of concert-goers who have become disaffected by radical modern music. Tonal, lyric and immediately attractive, he still prods harmonies in new directions while keeping his roots in the style of Copland and Barber. Born in New York City in 1938, the son of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s concertmaster, his works have received a catalogue of major awards, the 1997 Academy Award winning film score for The Red Violin being a fertile source for his later concert works. I find the Caprices one of the most exciting solo violin scores since the days of Paganini, their outgoing virtuosity presenting a considerable display of technical virtuosity. The Chaconne also exists in a version with orchestral accompaniment, and has already received a stunning performance on a Naxos disc from Chloe Hanslip.The Violin Sonata from 1963 is one of Corigliano’s earliest recognised works, and I also hear something of Bernstein in rhythms that titillate the ear. In four movements with its underlying sadness in the Lento, the toccata-like finale is a powerhouse of left-hand dexterity. I guess that the fine pianist, Nina Tichman, does not play much American jazz, a requisite mood in the opening movement, but throughout the violinist, Ida Bieler, has the technical equipment to deal with the fiendish difficulties that Corigliano poses, here intonation in the centre of every note. Rather strangely Naxos already have a sensational recording of the Sonata and the Chaconne from the Russian-born Philippe Quint, which the composer has justifiably described as ‘absolutely amazing’, his Stradivari violin glistening with an incandescent range of brilliant colours. Coupling may be your deciding factor, the fabulous Quint having music by Virgil Thomson, while this all Corigliano release includes Tichman’s desirable account of the substantial Fantasia on an Ostinato.

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12:06:54 AM, 25 May 2016
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