Michael Lewin / Irina Muresanu

Bolcom: The Four Sonatas for Violin & Piano; Graceful Ghost Rag

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The violin sonatas of William Bolcom pose many challenges to violinists. For starters, the four sonatas were composed over a period of nearly four decades. As with any composer whose career continues uninterrupted over that span of time, many stylistic and technical changes occur in Bolcom's output and are immediately observable in the violin sonatas. Bolcom also draws on a great many different musical idioms from jazz to American folk music and Latin American dance styles. In this recording, violinist Irina Muresanu demonstrates her strength for nearly all of the demands Bolcom makes. Movements with elements of jazz are definitely her forte as she instantly transports listeners to a jazz club with her dark and sultry sound, effortles and appropriate glissandos, and stylized rhythmic panache. In movements where the violin is asked to put on more purely technical displays, Muresanu sometimes falters. Particularly in the Third Sonata, composed for Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Muresanu loses the sense of effortless music-making heard in the first and second sonatas. Still, the strengths outweigh the faults, and the result is still an acceptable collection of the complete violin sonatas.

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