Monday, August 20, 2007

Album of the Day: Claus Ogermann's "Works for Violin & Piano"

Claus Ogermann: "Works for Violin & Piano"
Decca CD 4758400 (2007)
Rating: *****

Another sublime work by the genius Claus Ogermann. This time, four masterpieces for violin & piano duo, in oustanding performances by Yue Deng and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
"Sarabande-Fantasie" was premiered in NY, by violinist Charles Libove and pianist Nina Lugovoy, back in 1991. Aaron Rosand did the first recording of the orchestral version.The cadenza-like "Erzählung" is very demanding in terms of technique and expression for Yue Deng, above a (shifting) pedal point in the piano part.
The second piece, originally titled "Divertissement for Violin and Piano", was retitled "Duo Lirico" in 1986. Its second movement is a charming stylised tango, followed by an elegant "valse lente".
"Preludio and Chant" (1979) was written for (and originally recorded by) Gidon Kremer.
The highlight of this superb album, "Nightwings" is the fifteenth in a series of short pieces for violin and piano conceived as "encores". This sumptuous piece, first recorded by jazz violinist Joe Venuti in 1975, and later by tenor giant Michael Brecker in one of his landmark collaborations with Claus on the "Cityscape" album in 1982, receives a stunning performance by violin virtuoso Yue Deng, who seems to fly over the highly challenging melodic content.
Recorded on February 18 & 19, 2006, in NY, released in 2007 in Europe, the album was co-produced by Italian maestro Ettore Stratta and American composer/jazz historian Gene Lees, who wrote the English lyrics for some of Jobim's songs such as "Corcovado" (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars) and "Vivo Sonhando" (Dreamer). Highly recommended!

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