Petteri Iivonen

Art of the Violin

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Yarlung Records is an organization that promotes young, undiscovered artists by producing their debut albums. What a find in Finnish-born violinist Petteri Iivonen. Brought to attention by famed violinist and pedagogue Hagai Shaham, Iivonen possesses a rare synthesis of skills for such a young artist: brilliant technique that does not overshadow instinctive musical decisions. His chosen program for his debut album is varied but logically tied together. It opens with Ysaÿe's Second Violin Sonata -- which begins with a direct quote from Bach's G minor Sonata -- and comes full circle to end with Bach's D minor Partita. In the center is Debussy's masterful Violin Sonata (the last work the French giant was to complete), the Sallinen Cadenze, Ysaÿe's Fourth Sonata, and the Lefkowitz Eli Eli, commissioned especially for Iivonen and this album. As diverse as the compositions are, so, too, are the different colors, temperaments, and moods of Iivonen's playing. The two Ysaÿe sonatas are bold and assertive, while the Bach is elegantly refined without becoming timid. His tone in both is rich, vibrant, and powerful. Iivonen completely changes gears in the Debussy and, along with pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald, produces a suave, misty sound quality ideally suited for Debussy's late work. Just as exceptional as Iivonen's own playing and sound is the way Yarlung Records captures it. The liner notes even take the unusual step of detailing the precise setup used in the recording process. Yarlung favors a highly natural, unadorned sound quality that really lets Iivonen's inherent beauty and refinement shine through.

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