Violinist Yevgeny Kutik gets points right off the bat for the concept of this album, which is in all likelihood one that nobody else has attempted before: he commissioned a group of composers to select a family photograph (some of the composers chose a personal photograph instead) and write a piece inspired by it. It might have been nice to have the photographs themselves in the CD booklet, but they are included on a more expansive website that also contains more information about the music and its background. Kutik presented the works individually, in multiple concerts, before gathering them together into this album. Although the entire album is only 23 minutes long, the individual works have their own personalities, and they stand on their own. In fact, they may stand better on their own than collectively. The album is unified by the violin, but the works have various accompaniments, and a few, notably Joseph Schwantner's Daydreams, which includes a vocal quartet, tend to jump out of the flow. Nevertheless, most of the works fit, and most are quite evocative of their subjects. You might not guess them cold, but with the slightest cue, each one will bring you into its world. Sample the very first work, Christopher Cerrone's Flight to Limbo, which depicts a childhood illness of his father. Cerrone has Kutik play with a practice mute, drastically reducing the volume of the violin and creating a ghostly sound. There are other similar pleasures throughout, even if Kutik's experiment is not completely successful. Recommended for violinists and other soloists looking for a unique recital idea.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim