Wolfgang David

Finnegan's Wake: New Music for Violin and Piano

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This CD may attract interest for its program -- a fairly generous collection of twentieth century works, without so much as a nod to established classical fare -- but it may also lose some listeners because the performances are rather academic and less than compelling. Violinist Wolfgang David and pianist David Gompper are capable musicians, and they are plainly earnest in their involvement. But even though their playing is dutiful and technically admirable, they often seem emotionally uncommitted and intellectually unstimulated, as if they are studiously working their way through these pieces without really absorbing or communicating them. Their reading of Aaron Copland's Sonata is lackluster and stiff, and their performances of Ching-chu Hu's trite Passions, the meandering Capriccio by Jeremy Dale Roberts, and Gompper's own labored composition on an Irish reel, Finnegan's Wake, seem accurate enough but uninspired. The duo find safety in Morton Feldman's austere Spring of Chosroes, a work that asks for great timbral control and precise timing, but requires little personality or feeling to be effective. David is at his best in Elliott Carter's Riconoscenza (Per Goffredo Petrassi) for unaccompanied violin, where he is free to be fully expressive without coordinating with Gompper. Albany's recording quality is echoic and unfocused, giving the disc a drafty recital hall ambience.

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