In pop music, the "sophomore jinx" is what might take hold the second time around for an artist who has had a successful first album -- something about the new album is perceived as inferior to their maiden voyage, and as a result the artist goes down in flames. In her sophomore effort, Solovision, classical violinist Jennifer Frautschi has taken on the "jinx" full force, squashing it like a bug beneath her high-heeled shoe with a second album that almost makes you forget her thoroughly respectable first effort, a somewhat more conventional program of Stravinsky and Ravel. All of the music heard here is twentieth century music for solo violin, a rather risky program for a young artist as there is no "net" to fall into as there would be with an accompanist, and some listeners are spooked even by the name Bartók. Frautschi acquits herself on all fronts and provides a fresh perspective on some badly needed repertoire, to boot; this would be an excellent disc for student violinists to acquaint themselves with solo violin literature other than that by Johann Sebastian Bach.
On Solovision, Frautschi delivers appealing and passionate renderings of the well-known Kreisler, Ysayë, and Bartók pieces. The Davidovsky Synchronisms No. 9 is truly an astonishing piece of work, as Frautschi's violin swoons, dives, attacks, and skitters away in seamless harmony with Davidovsky's pre-recorded electronic score. John Harbison's Germanic Songs of Solitude (4) won't grab the attention of the listener as much as the other pieces, but that's no reflection on the interpreter so much as it is the work; even by the time these tracks are heard, the listener is already "sold" anyway.
One is compelled to make mention of the terrific cover art for this CD, which takes on a polka dot motif reminiscent of 1960s Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. What's on the outside is as attractive and stylish as what's on the inside, thus presenting an appealing antidote to the usual "blah" classical album front cover.