Leon Kirchner, Duo No. 2 for Violin and Piano; Roger Sessions, Sonata for Violin; Duo for Violin & Cello; Arnold Schoenberg, Phantasy for Violin Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47.
Elizabeth Chang, violin; Steven Beck, piano; Alberto Parrini, cello
Albany Records TROY 1850
Elizabeth Chang is Professor of Violin at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a member of the violin and viola faculties of the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School. Her virtuosic technique and love of musical challenge are apparent throughout this performance.
These compositions free the violin from its centuries old role as imitator of, and extension of, the human voice. This music insists on pushing the instrument to extremes, to relentlessly achieve things the human voice cannot. The violin bow becomes a light saber, capable of every conceivable form of attack.
For example, Sessions’s epic Sonata makes extensive use of double-stops, so that Chang becomes a one-person string quartet. The moderato movement calls for dog-whistle harmonics; the molto vivo requires huge intervallic leaps (think kitten chasing a butterfly). Devilishly difficult, un-singable, this. Likewise, Kirchner’s Duo for Violin and Cello calls for humorous burps, farts, coughs, laughs, and Schoenberg’s unsingable Fantasy hiccups its way through a hailstorm of bullets. In this context the accompanying instrument (piano or cello) conspires to blur the boundaries between leading, accompanying, and supporting.