American Classics - Bolcom: Violin Sonatas / Soroka, Greene

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William Bolcom's four violin sonatas span 50 years of compositional activity. The First dates from 1956 (his freshman year at the University of Washington in Seattle), the Second was written 22 years later, while Nos. 3 and 4 respectively appeared in 1993 and 1994. Play the First's energetic concluding Quasi-Variations movement first and you'll realize that the 18-year-old composer already could embrace and manipulate many moods, shifting from sweet tunefulness and thorny dissonance as he pleased. His ability to do this, of course, would develop to more blatant extremes once hard-core jazz, pop, and world music idioms gained unreserved admission to his expressive kingdom.

The husband and wife team of violinist Solomia Soroka and pianist Arthur Greene simply eat up this music like starving artists getting their first substantial grub in ages. Examples: their gutsy delivery of the Fourth's Arabic-influenced Arabesque, their impassioned, flame-throwing dialogue at the Third's outset, and dagger-like articulation of the Second's terse second movement. Perhaps a quicker, suppler approach to the Second's "Joe Venuti meets Salsa" finale, in the manner of Maria Bachmann'a 1994 Catalyst recording, would be more stylistically apt, but the music bears up well when articulated in "longhair" accents (will Nonesuch ever reissue the still-unsurpassed Sergiu Luca recording with the composer tearing up the keyboard?). Bolcom provides his own informative, entertaining booklet notes to a lovingly executed and beautifully engineered release that does all participants proud. [2/27/2006]
--Jed Distler,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8559150

  • UPC: 636943915028

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: William Bolcom

  • Performer: Arthur Greene, Solomia Soroka