A trenchant 'TOUR DE FORCE' by violinist Vincent P. Skowronski who on this particular disc sublimely displays his extraordinary skills as a bonafide virtuoso while always evoking the 'consummate artist' within himself.
"SKOWRONSKI's is one of the best performances of the 'Bach Partita in D Minor' that we have heard in the last 40 years." Fanfare
"MR. SKOWRONSKI can be heard to good advantage and effect
in these unaccompanied works. Of particular note and interest are the Ysaye Sonatas, done with dash and panache by this artist. The Hindemith work is not mainstream repertoire on recordings but its inclusion on this disc is certainly most welcome."
Herald-Tribune (Bloomington, IN)
Reams and reams have been written over the last couple of centuries successfully chronicling the voluminous output of the Giant of the Baroque, JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750). For violin, perhaps the most famous work ever written for the instrument by Bach was his set of six Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin, the favorite more than likely being his Partita No. 2 in D Minor which has the monumental CIACCONA as its closing movement. We stop here and refrain from inserting any supercilious kudos regarding the 'greatness' of Mr. J.S. Bach. We do, however, definitely endorse this CD and highly recommend that you add it to your collection. Mr. Skowronski's performance here of the entire Partita is superlative and oft times breathtaking. What more can we say!
Separating the two Ysaye Solo Sonatas at this juncture is the SONATA NO. 2 for SOLO VIOLIN by German composer, PAUL HINDEMITH (1895-1963). Mr. Skowronski elected to record Hindemith's second sonata rather than his first as the artist reasoned that No. 2 was a bit more 'attractive and tuneful' for probably most potential listeners. Both solo sonatas, as Hindemith's Opus 31, were written in 1924.
The SONATA NO. 2 was a harbinger of things to come from the aggressive German and Viennese proponents of "a-tonal" music. But, while the "Age of Impressionism" was still flourishing and maintaining its copacetic 'rule of the global musical roost,' Hindemith's well-received compositional output in Germany had begun to signal the steady approach and subsequent acceptance of other early 20th century "avant-garde" composers, e.g., Arnold Schoenberg, Anton von Webern, Alban Berg, a young Igor Stravinsky, et al.
Here now, Mr. Skowronski handsomely performs the second sonata of Hindemith and portrays it as engaging, wantonly pleasant and beguiling virtuosic fare.......at least in this one specific instance. Therefore, we thank Mr. Skowronski for his ever constant artistic insight and brilliant playing.
The Ysaye sonatas chosen and included on this disc by Mr. Skowronski represent TWO from a famous collection of SIX solo sonatas written in 1923 by legendary violinist/composer, EUGENE YSAYE (1858-1931). This particular Sonata No. 2 was dedicated by Ysaye to his friend and colleague, French violinist Jacques Thibaud.
The first movement, OBSESSION (subtitled, Prelude), begins with a lightening bolt violin entrance which --make no mistake-- exactly replicates the clarion statement that serves to open J.S. Bach's PRELUDIO to his PARTITA NO. 3 in E MAJOR. As indicated by its title, OBSESSION definitely reveals the composer's consummate supplication to the august presence of the Baroque Giant himself, Johann Sebastian Bach. After graciously acknowledging Bach's E Minor 'contribution' to his sonata, Ysaye curiously inserts the lugubrious plain-song DIES IRAE motif into the musical fabric. This seemingly ubiquitous motif (extracted from the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass) occurs multiple times throughout the four movement sonata. Ysaye's quasi-maniacal writing continues to drive the movement onward at a break-neck pace and heads directly for what he has planned to be an anticipated, tumultuous Coda. Initiated by a upward surging E Major arpeggiated passage, the fiery Coda puts a slam-shut end to Ysaye's self-imposed demonic OBSESSION.
The following 'poco Lento' MALINCONIA is just that. Wistful phrases serenely undulate and gently meander until a restatement of the doleful, ever-present DIES IRAE motif appears and places this melancholy interlude upon a languorous cushion of momentary gossamer repose.
Exploding double-stopped pizzicati chords suddenly introduce the ribald third movement to DANSE DES OMBRES,
a rustic SARABANDE with Theme and Six Variations. At the conclusion of the final variation, which has soared to perch atop an electric high E-natural, Mr. Skowronski immediately segues to the raucous re-cap but, unlike
its introduction, presents a solid, resounding 'ARCO' resolution to the romp.
LES FURIES, the Finale to the SONATA NO. 2 is a rendering of onomatopoeia in that the music which Ysaye had composed within the framework of LES FURIES is, when performed, intended to sound like what its title implies,......i.e., FURIOUS! The composer surely "hit the nail on the head" as his writing muscularly percolates with wanton abandon and frantic intent. Ysaye's herky-jerky presentation of the Finale pounds away at 'the message' while the ever-present DIES IRAE motif again makes numerous appearances. In fact, it is the dirge-like DIES IRAE that initiates
a fiery Coda. Henceforth, fury meets furious and so, with one last grand primal gesture, LES FURIES predictably self-implodes!
Check out the artist's website:
1. Partita #2 in D Minor, J.s. Bach- Allemande
6. Solo Sonata #2, E. Ysaye- Obsession
8. Danse Des Ombres
9. Les Furies
10. Solo Sonata #2, P. Hindemith- Leicht Bewegte
11. Ruhig Bewegte
13. Funf Variationen V. W.a. Mozart
14. Solo Sonata #5, E. Ysaye- L'aurore
15. Danse Rustique