Welcome to "For the Record," Violinist.com's weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!
"Part of my interpretation and understanding of (the music of Piazzolla) comes from my own perception of the noisy, dirty, crazy and yet wonderful megapolis of Buenos Aires," said violinist Tomás Cotik, who grew up in Buenos Aires and has lived in Germany, Canada and the U.S. "Raw, edgy, intense, violent, sexy...not cheesy, nor kitsch, ultra-romantic or pseudo-crossover. Piazzolas' music, informed by a multicultural upbringing, resonates with my journey." The album commemorates the 25th anniversary of Astor Piazzolla’s death with some of the composer’s most memorable works, such as "Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas," "Milonga del ángel," "Adiós nonino," and "Balada para un loco." Cotik and Lin previously collaborated on the Piazzolla album Tango Nuevo. BELOW: Tomas Cotik performs Piazzolla's "Revirado," with pianist Tao Lin:
The Dover Quartet’s second album celebrates three "Voices of Defiance," with Viktor Ullmann’s String Quartet No. 3 (1943), Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 2 (1944), and Simon Laks’s String Quartet No. 3 (1945). Austrian composer Viktor Ullmann (1898–1944) was deported by the Nazis to Theresienstadt in 1942, and remained active in the camp’s music program until he was murdered at Auschwitz two years later. It was in Theresienstadt that he composed his Third String Quartet, a life-affirming work whose vigorous ending belies the circumstances of its creation. Like Ullman, Polish-Jewish composer and violinist Simon Laks (1901–83) was deported to Auschwitz, but as head of the prisoners’ orchestra, he became one of its few inmates to survive the Holocaust. Composed after the war in Paris, his Third String Quartet combines Polish motifs with a neoclassical predilection for balance, directness, and clarity. Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–75) is one of the towering figures of 20th-century composition, and the Second String Quartet is one of his longest works. Yet its tone is characteristically elusive, reflecting the game of cat-and-mouse that he was forced to play with Stalin’s Soviet Party throughout his career. Sometimes designated an “enemy of the people,” and at others a model citizen, Shostakovich bore continual witness to the horrors of political repression and the devastation of war. "Recording this album was an emotional process," said cellist Camden Shaw. "Even disregarding historical context, the music itself is so powerful that it can bring tears to one’s eyes. But in the case of these particular works, knowing the darkness from which they emerged gives each note extra weight: they become at once even more tragic and more beautiful, the fragility and evanescence of the composers’ lives standing in sharp contrast with the immortal nature of their music.” BELOW: The Dover Quartet discusses Shostakovich's second string quartet from their upcoming album "Voices of Defiance."
The Colorado-based Altius Quartet releases its second album: three Shostakovich quartets from the 1960s, one in memory of his first wife, one composed after being forced to join the communist party, and one for his third wife. BELOW: From the album, the Altius Quartet performs Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110: II. Allegro molto:
The Arod Quartet, founded four years ago in Paris, was named after Legolas’ horse in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings --the name means "swift." The ensemble won the ARD Competition in Munich in 2016 and are now artists-in-residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels. On this debut album of Mendelssohn, the Arod Quartet performs with the young mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa. Mendelssohn has played an important part in their musical life together: "Four years ago the four of us met. We opened our first score in a small, badly-lit room at the Paris Conservatoire, and we started to play. The music was Mendelssohn’s Op. 13," said a member of the quartet. "We were overwhelmed with love for the quartet as a form... op 13 has remained close to our hearts … We have grown up with it, learned with it and won our two biggest competitions with it. We decided to conceive this album as a narrative of his life as a composer." The album includes Mendelssohn: Op. 13, Op. 14 No. 2, Four Pieces Op.84, Lied No. 1 "Frage."BELOW: Quatuor Arod performs Mendelssohn Quartet, Op. 13, live in the Carl Nielsen Competition 2016.
If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes.
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