Violino Latino - Piazzolla, Etc / Steinbacher, Von Wienhardt

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VIOLINO LATINO Arabella Steinbacher (vn); Peter von Wienhardt (pn) ORFEO 686 061 (65:04)

PIAZZOLLA Libertango (arr. Wienhardt). Adios nonino (arr. Calo). Milonga del angel (arr. Calo). Oblivión (arr. Wienhardt). Revirado (arr. Calo). PONCE (arr. Heifetz) Estrellita. FALLA La vida breve: Danse espagnole (arr. Kreisler). Canciones populares españolas: (arr. Kochanski) Nana; Polo. El amor brujo: Ritual Fire Dance. KREISLER La gitana. GINASTERA Pampeana No. 1. Rhapsodie. ALBÉNIZ Tango, op. 165/2. MILHAUD Scaramouche: Brazileira (arr. Heifetz). VILLA LOBOS O canto do cisne negro. WIENHARDT Salsa for BBWL. MOWER Bossa merengova (arr. Wienhardt)

Arabella Steinbacher and Peter von Wienhardt sound like names worlds apart from the program on Orfeo’s CD, “Violino Latino.” But Steinbacher comes out punching in Piazzolla’s Libertango and Milonga del angel . While the description of the tango as a vertical expression of a horizontal desire may not capture the mood of the program or the performances, and if there’s more fire than smoke even in pieces like Falla’s familiar “Danse espagnole,” nobody should object. Stewart Spencer attributes to Daniel Barenboim, Gidon Kremer (who plays this repertoire regularly), Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Emanuel Ax, and Gary Burton the opinion that you can’t play Piazzolla’s compositions without getting your hands dirty. Steinbacher and Wienhardt certainly don’t. Steinbacher plays with an extremely wide dynamic range on the 1736 Muntz Stradivari, a violin that has impressed me in the past as sounding somewhat tubby. That clotting occurs only briefly in moments on the lower registers in Milonga del angel ; otherwise, it’s as steely as a saber (or Steinbacher makes it sound that way). Steinbacher and Wienhardt breathe a dragon’s breath into Kreisler’s Gitana , and play Heifetz’s signature Estrellita and his boffo transcription of Milhaud’s “Brazileira” with the kind of panache with which Heifetz himself wowed audiences. In Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance,” Steinbacher employs hair-raising timbres to generate extra electricity, but Wienhardt certainly helps turn the crank, keeping the duo’s rhythmic verve from flagging. Albéniz’s Tango may be the only piece on the program to bear unfavorable comparisons with other performances; Arthur Grumiaux brought to this Kreisler transcription a smoldering warmth that haunts my memory almost 20 years after I first heard it. On the other hand, Steinbacher’s more aggressive reading may fit better into the overall program. Nevertheless, she settles into a sultry yet elegant reading of Falla’s “Nana” (she sounds somewhat hoarse in Villa Lobos’s similarly suggestive miniature). The two most recent pieces, a jaunty one by Wienhardt and a jazzy one by Mike Mower hold their own as more recent updates of the program’s older repertoire.

Steinbacher’s way with Piazzolla makes for quite a more passionate affair than did Gidon Kremer’s archer wit. Throughout these miniatures, in fact, Steinbacher recalls Kyung Wha Chung’s fiery intensity. Wienhardt, who made some of the arrangements, as well as Orfeo’s startlingly lifelike recorded sound, add to the excitement of already exciting playing and music. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: ORF-C686061

  • UPC: 4011790686127

  • Label: Orfeo

  • Composer: Alberto Ginastera, Astor Piazzolla, Darius Milhaud, Fritz Kreisler, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Isaac Albeniz, Manuel de Falla, Manuel Ponce, Mike Mower, Peter von Wienhardt

  • Performer: Arabella Steinbacher, Peter von Wienhardt