Francisco Fullana

Through the Lens of Time

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The Four Seasons Recomposed, by British composer Max Richter, is exactly what the title suggests: a set of elaborations on the Four Seasons violin concertos of Vivaldi, aided by loops and repetitions that focus the attention on sonority and rhythm rather than thematic development. The work is undeniably easy on the ears, and it is not a surprise that it is receiving its second recording here, after one by violinist Daniel Hope in 2012. Better still, Spanish violinist Francisco Fullana and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Izcaray offer a new presentation of the work: the four concertos (which after all are separate works) are not paired with Vivaldi's four but interspersed with other contemporary pieces that make use of Baroque material or style. One of these, Alfred Schnittke's Suite in the Old Style for violin and piano, is moderately well known, but there are several novel pieces including a world premiere, Catalan composer Salvador Brotons' Variacions sobre un tema barroc for solo violin. The theme of that work is from a zarzuela by Antoni Lliteres; that of the fascinating Königliches Thema for solo violin by Isang Yun (1970) treats the theme of Bach's Musical Offering, BWV 1079, and subjects it to Korean as well as Western influences. One may suspect, as the film Pump Up the Volume had it, that all the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks, but Fullana's playing has a good deal of flair, and he successfully places Richter's novelty within a wider phenomenon.

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