Rudens Turku / Oliver Schnyder

Homelands: Music for Violin and Piano

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Albanian-born violinist Rudens Turku joins forces with Swiss-born pianist Oliver Schnyder for a program of works entitled Homelands. The title refers not to the homes of the two performers, but rather the five composers -- Grieg, Rachmaninov, Dvorák, Piazzolla, and Sarasate -- who each had a penchant for writing nationalistic compositions. Moreover, Turku and Schnyder's program features pieces that, with the exception of the Rachmaninov Vocalaise, are infrequently performed. The centerpiece of the album is actually first on the program: Grieg's Sonata No. 3 in C minor. By some accounts the composer's best piece of chamber music, the sonata indeed shows a mature, well-developed Grieg completely comfortable with his own voice and style. Turku's approach to the first two movements is deeply satisfying. The first movement is a dark, serious endeavor befitting the key of C minor; Turku's sound in the upper registers of the G and D strings is muscular, throaty, gripping. The center movement completely changes gears with sweet, carefree, and elegant writing to which Turku applies equal measure of subtlety and tenderness. The rapid third movement, though performed with gusto, occasionally finds Turku forcing his instrument. Homelands also features Dvorák's G major Violin Sonatina, originally conceived as a youth composition. Kudos to Turku and Schnyder for programming this work and giving it a thoughtful, engaging performance that proves that a youth work need not be simplistic. Two short character pieces by Piazzolla and Sarasate conclude the varied program with a rousing Latin kick. Avie's sound is clear, warm, and present.

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