Tansman: Violin Concerto, Etc / Bartosz Cajler, Et Al
TANSMAN 5 pièces. 1 Violin Concerto. 1 Suite Baroque • Marcin Na??z-Niesio?owski, cond; Bartosz Cajler (vn); 1 Bia?ystok O of Podlasie Op & P • DUX 639 (50:12)
The Polish composer, Alexandre Tansman, wrote his Cinq pièces in 1930 for Joseph Szigeti—according to Iwona Linstedt’s notes, in two versions: for violin and piano and for violin with small orchestra. If the first movement, “Toccata,” sounds motoric and spiky, the second, “Chanson et boîte à musique,” strikes a richer, more sultry vein. The third movement, a chatty, bustling perpetual motion, somewhat in the manner of Heifetz’s famous transcriptions of Poulenc’s pieces in the genre, gives way to a throbbing “Aria” and a concluding jazzy “Basso ostinato.” Bartosz Cajler, captured by the engineers in the midst of the orchestral sound, possesses the technical alertness required by the fast movements’ elfin sprightliness as well as an ability to wring the expressivity out of the slow movements. But the five pieces last in total only about 11 minutes; the weight of the violin pieces therefore lies in the longer, more highly developed Violin Concerto from 1937, a four-movement virtuosic showpiece in which, the notes relate, Heifetz had taken an interest. In fact, the first movement’s soaring passages seem as reminiscent of Heifetz’s style as do similar ones in works dedicated to him, such as Korngold’s (or Gruenberg’s) Violin Concerto. But the writing for the solo instrument sounds more violinistic in the technical passages than do the corresponding moments in Korngold’s work; and Cajler plays the first movement’s dashing coda with verve and aplomb. The second movement begins ruminatively and introduces cadenza-like passages in which the solo instrument engages in spectral effects—but, as did the preceding movement, this one ends with colorful rapid passagework, in which the solo violin vies with winds and even percussion. The third movement spreads a lush harmonic (and textural) backdrop behind the violin’s cantabile, yet Cajler never steps outside the work’s dry-eyed sensitivity into Romantic exaggeration or sentiment—the generally tonal, accessible style, in fact, never seems to invite such waywardness. The finale alla zingaresca introduces contrapuntal passages in the woodwinds after a cadenza, and that complexity, no matter how high-spirited, serves as a foil to the Gypsy passages with which Tansman has peppered the movement (and which Cajler and the Orchestra play with panache). Once again, the engineers have caught Cajler in the orchestra’s web—or does his 1895 Postiglione violin simply fail to project the solo part beyond it?
The program concludes with the Suite Baroque for chamber orchestra from 1958, a five-movement confection that bubbles with heady energy, bright orchestral timbres, and spiky rhythms (in the manner of an especially genial Stravinsky). While the Sarabande and Rigaudon may not owe much to the original dances, still, as do the movements of Grieg’s Holberg suite, they pay tribute in vigorous modern language to a bygone era. As throughout, the orchestra plays incisively, and Na??z-Niesio?owski gives evidence of a finely tuned ear for Tansman’s sonorities. For its attractive but unfamiliar repertoire and zesty performances (not to mention the creative photographs of Cajler in the jewel case and booklet), the program deserves a strong recommendation.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Catalog Number: DUX639
Composer: Alexandre Tansman
Conductor: Marc Nalecz-Niesiolowski
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bialystok Podlasie Philharmonic Orchestra
Performer: Bartosz Cajler