Lorenzo Gatto / Milos Popovic

Deconstructing the Wall

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Deconstructing the Wall, a 2009 Fuga Libera release, has a program that is as intriguing as its title. The wall to which it refers includes both physical and ideological walls put up between different quadrants of Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century. Violinist Lorenzo Gatto and pianist Milos Popovic unite the music of Romanian Georges Enescu, Czech Bohuslav Martinu, and Serb Vasilije Mokranjac. Enescu and Martinu, both extremely popular in their own time and now, show clear signs of influence from Bartók and Debussy, respectively, yet each speaks with an individual voice all their own. The Enescu Third Violin Sonata is filled with brilliant technical demands such as birdcalls, quarter tones, and folk-influenced rhythms. Martinu's Five Madrigal Stanzas for Violin and Piano, written in honor of his Princeton colleague Albert Einstein, is less rhythmically diverse than some of his more familiar compositions, but incorporates many pleasing, easily enjoyable melodies. Following this more serene interlude, the G minor Violin Sonata of the little-known Mokranjac is by far the darkest, most dramatic work on the program. Gatto and Popovic do an exemplary job of uniting these three composers from across Europe. Gatto's technique is stellar, especially considering his relatively young age. He produces an abundance of tone colors, enabling him to transport listeners from moments of placidity to vehemence and everything in between. Intonation is virtually flawless, articulation is curt and precise, and dynamics are brilliantly varied. Add to this the exceptional fluid connection between Gatto and Popovic and listeners are treated to a gripping performance of three masterpieces of the repertoire.

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