French rarities & Ukrainian masters.

Although its essential characteristics may have been thrown into relief only by recent events, the music of Ukraine has periodically come into focus throughout the past 250 years, especially during the mid-20th and early-21st centuries. These periods encompass the three composers featured on the first of our violin-and-piano recital albums this month. The second is a programme of works by the 19th-century French composer/violinist Henry Vieuxtemps, who revolutionised the role of his instrument, setting aside the old repertoire and transforming the technique, aesthetic and poetry of the instrument.

The expressive vitality in this collection of violin sonatas transcends the cultural upheavals from which these three Ukrainian composers emerged. Bortkiewicz’s Violin Sonata in G minor is among the most impressive of his relatively few chamber works, finding his musical language at its most vivid and directly communicative. Kosenko’s Violin Sonata in A minor is notable for the satisfying balance of its two subtly differentiated movements. Skoryk’s Second Violin Sonata is a stylistically diverse chamber work, with pointed allusions to Beethoven, Prokofiev and Gershwin during its compact and always eventful course.

Listen to an extract from Skoryk’s Violin Sonata No. 2:
III. Burlesque: Vivo

Ukrainian born violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv is a highly celebrated soloist, chamber musician and educator. Since 2010, Dr Ivakhiv has served as artistic director of the Music at the Institute Concert Series in New York City, where her primary focus is to introduce audiences to Ukrainian classical music. She is also artistic director of the Caspian Monday Music Festival in Greensboro, Vermont. In 2021, she was named Honoured (Merited) Artist of Ukraine, her native country’s highest cultural honour.

Pianist Steven Beck made his concerto debut with the National Symphony Orchestra. His annual Christmas Eve performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations at Bargemusic has become a New York institution. An experienced performer of new music, he has worked with Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Henri Dutilleux, Charles Wuorinen, George Crumb, George Perle and Fred Lerdahl. His discography includes George Walker’s piano sonatas (Bridge Records) and Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto (Albany Records).

Henry VIEUXTEMPS (1820–1881)
Voix intimes
Rarities for Violin and Piano

Vilmos Csikos, Violin • Olivier Lechardeur, Piano
Manon Lamaison, Soprano

Famed for his profoundly Romantic violin concertos, Henry Vieuxtemps revolutionised violin playing in the 19th century. His loyal student Eugène Ysaÿe pointed out that his teacher’s work was ‘a treasure to be protected at all costs’ and ‘ought to be known in its entirety’. Vieuxtemps’ bicentenary in 2020 provided an ideal opportunity to unearth lost and often unpublished manuscripts passed down through the composer’s family. These rediscovered gems include the world premiere of the Fantasy for Voice, Violin and Orchestra, presented here in a piano reduction, an amazing work in which the voice, evoking the composer’s memories in a wordless vocalise, wraps itself around the notes of the violin.

Listen to an extract from Ma marche funèbre

Violinist Vilmos Csikos is laureate of numerous international violin competitions, having won First Prize at both the Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition and the Remember Enescu International Violin Competition in 2007. He was also awarded First Grand Prize both at the 2017 Leonid Kogan International Competition for Young Violinists and the 2020 Henry Vieuxtemps International Violin Competition. He is regularly invited to perform at international music festivals in Europe and Asia.

Pianist/violinist Olivier Lechardeur has appeared as a chamber musician across Europe and Asia. His broad repertoire includes contemporary works and the music of South America, and he has forged strong links with other artistic disciplines, collaborating on projects with dancers, actors and illustrators. He currently teaches at the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud d'Aix-en-Provence.
Initially trained as a pianist, Manon Lamaison began her studies as a singer in 2013 at the University of Montreal, before completing her education at the Conservatoire national supérieur musique et danse in Lyon. Her love of acting and the stage soon led her to participation in opera, in tandem with her passion as a recitalist. Having formed several ensembles, she is the founder of the a cappella vocal quartet Quatuor Ibaï.
More albums of music for violin by Myroslav Skoryk and Henry Vieuxtemps
Violin Concertos, Vol. 1
Nos. 1-4

Bielow • National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine • Sirenko
‘Ukrainian violinist Andrej Bielow… embarks on this adventure of Skoryk’s complete violin concertos with an intensity and clarity that never fails to impress… magnificent versions of these concertos, whose discovery is an absolute revelation.’
Violin Concertos, Vol. 2
Nos. 5-9

Bielow • National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine • Sirenko
‘Skoryk’s music ... is passionate, dramatic and at times even heroic, but always melodiously exciting and brimming with energy.’
Classical Music Daily
‘This is the kind of rousing music-making that quite confounds the critic, who must sit there scribbling on his pad when all he really wants to do is throw it away and groove to the beat.’
American Record Guide
Violin Concertos Nos. 5, 6 and 7

Keylin • Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra • Mogrelia
Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra • Yuasa
‘Throughout the disc, Keylin’s technical facility is allied to real feeling for the music … Both conductors and orchestras provide first-rate support, and the engineering captures the performances with admirable realism.’

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