Yes, Today’s Composers Are Still Writing Violin Sonatas

17/02/2015

  Shanfield, Shaw, Lash, Kosugi, Aucoin, S.C. Adams, Wollschlager, Cerrone: Rachel Lee Priday (violin), David Kaplan (piano). SubCulture, New York City. 6.2.2015 (BH)

Eric Shanfield: Violin Sonata
Caroline Shaw: XVI. Mit guten Humor and un poco lol ma con serioso vibes
Hannah Lash: Liebesbrief an Schumann
Sayo Kosugi: Delirious Distortion
Matthew Aucoin: Celan Fragments
Samuel Carl Adams: Aves Nostradamus
Scott Wollschlager: Cuteness Piece
Christopher Cerrone: Sonata for Violin and Piano

What does it mean to write in a venerable form? In this fascinating glimpse of the current state of the violin sonata, presented by MATA as part of its “Interval” series, violinist Rachel Lee Priday and pianist David Kaplan tried to answer that question, charming an eager audience at SubCulture. And in some cases, the past vaulted forward, generating contemporary reflections that lingered long after.

Kaplan described Eric Shanfield’s Violin Sonata as “disorienting,” and its clipped phrases, artfully assembled into a parade of stuttering rhythms, seemed plucked from a sheaf of sonatas from the 19th century. Schumann’s “Prophet Bird” inspired Samuel Carl Adams’s Aves Nostradamus (2008), in which the first movement, “Stutter,” asks the pianist to tap and rub the instrument’s undercarriage, after altering the piano’s strings with putty and screws. In the second section, “Prophecy,” the piano repeats a single note as the violin breathes in ethereal commentary.

Schumann was invoked again in two brief interludes for piano alone, based on the composer’s Davidsbündlertänze, a set of sixteen dances. Kaplan asked composers to respond to one of their choice, and Hannah Lash used No. 14 to make Liebesbrief an Schumann, a pleasingly chromatic episode. Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw chose No. 16 to create XVI. Mit guten Humor and un poco lol ma con serioso vibes, a witty concoction of nonstop scales. And Ms. Priday had a solo turn with Sayo Kosugi’s Delirious Distortion, as dazzling as a modern-day Paganini caprice.

Other works seemed more of the present day, or perhaps with a whiff of the recent Cage-ian era, such as Scott Wollschlager’s Cuteness Piece, with the duo immersed in an avalanche of tiny motifs, some generated by, as Kaplan noted, “a fair amount of indeterminacy.” And I thought of Cage’s late “number pieces” during Matthew Aucoin’s Celan Fragments, an austere mix of notes, substantial pauses, and readings of Paul Celan’s poems. In both works, Priday and Kaplan  stepped carefully inside the composers’ idioms.

In the program notes, Christopher Cerrone revealed that roughly a decade ago, he swore he would never write a piece for violin and piano. Eventually he decided otherwise, and his new Sonata for Violin and Piano was born. It is a barrage of high harmonics and tremolos, coupled with decisive, stentorian piano chords—a riveting essay, teeming with constant motion. As Priday and Kaplan showed in their feverish reading, we are lucky to have it.

Bruce Hodges

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018 Blossom Music Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! LA Opera’s 2018/19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Buxton Festival 2018 and its New CEO __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Violinist Liza Ferschtman Celebrates Bernstein’s Centenary in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Piccadilly Chamber Music Series in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! I Musicanti’s Alexandra and the Russians at St Johns Smith Square in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group to Perform Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at Cadogan Hall __________________________________
  • NEW! A Celebration of the Work of Dai Fujikura at Wigmore Hall on 17 February __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB’s 2018 Emerging Dancer will be Chosen at the London Coliseum on 11 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Akram Khan’s Giselle for ENB Can be Seen in Cinemas from 25 April __________________________________
  • NEW! BARRY DOUGLAS IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • UPDATED! SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS CHOOSE THEIR ‘BEST OF 2017’ __________________________________
  • NEW! OMER MEIR WELLBER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! GREGOR TASSIE IN CONVERSATION WITH VALENTINA LISITSA __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s Kamara.hu __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H