Tim Schwarz

Music by Bach, Bartók, Stravinsky, de Falla & Rachmaninoff

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In the modern age of studio recordings, with the technological ability to tweak almost any aspect of a performance from intonation to balance to reverb, it takes some serious courage and professional integrity to put out a CD of live performances with no edits. Such is the case with this album by violinist Timothy Schwarz. Daring aside, the sound quality yielded by Schwarz's recording venue is not ideal. He and his musical companions sound consistently far away, and the piano in particular is fairly muddy. For the most part, the pieces Schwarz put on this program rely predominantly on rhythm. While there's nothing inaccurate about his rhythm, there's not much exciting about it, either, and most of the tracks come across as sounding quite safe and uninteresting. The dull recorded sound makes even de Falla's vibrant Suite Popular Espanola seem quite soft around the edges, lacking in sufficient Spanish flair. Bach's Chaconne from the D minor Partita offers Schwarz at least a few moments of lyrical playing, which seem much more interesting than the rhythmic sections. The Chaconne, while one of the most demanding pieces in the solo violin repertoire, should not sound as difficult and labored as it does in Schwarz's hands. Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat is the most vibrant and interesting work on the album, thanks largely to the dynamic and assertive playing of clarinetist Rie Suzuki. As a CD that is meant to feature the violin, though, this album falls a bit short.

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