Elena Urioste

2007 Sphinx Competition Laureate: Elena Urioste

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Violinist Elena Urioste has referred to her debut album on the tiny Michigan-based White Pine Music label as her love letter to the Curtis Institute of Music, where the Mexican/Basque/American violinist studied with Joseph Silverstein, Ida Kavafian, and Pamela Frank, among others. After winning the first-place laureate prize at the Detroit/Ann Arbor-based Sphinx Competition in 2007, Urioste recorded this recital disc with the assistance of accompanist Hugh Sung. It starts with very strong performances of the Janácek Violin Sonata and the Beethoven Seventh Violin Sonata, played with fire, intensity, and flexibility and with a crystal-clear idea of where the music is going. The Janácek is particularly lucid and engaging, and this is as good a Beethoven "Eroica" Sonata as you're likely to find, either past or present. Efrem Zimbalist's violin transcription of Carl Engel's wispy little song Sea-Shell is used as a charming, encore-like conclusion to the disc, but the main event here is the rarely recorded Carmen Fantasy of Jenö Hubay, a splendid tour-de-force of violin playing that runs the whole gamut of the instrument. Elena Urioste is right on top of the matter and delivers a winning, thrilling performance that will get you up and out of your seat. White Pine's recording is refreshingly close and comfortable; Urioste emerges from this rather cumbersomely titled effort -- 2007 Sphinx Competition Laureate -- as a player to watch and definitely one to listen to.

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