Dominica Eyckmans / Frederik Croene

Reflections for Viola & Piano

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Reflections for Viola & Piano, a Pavane Records disc featuring violist Dominica Eyckmans and pianist Frederik Croene, takes its name from the infrequently performed Britten work, Lachrymae, reflections on a Song of Dowland. The remainder of the album's program reflects on the viola's ascension from the seldom-used solo instrument of Schumann's time (with his Op. 113 Märchenbilder) to the frequent writing for the favorite instrument of Paul Hindemith (here represented by his Op. 11/4 Sonata), all the way to modern times when the viola is finally taking its place as the capable, emotive, and potentially virtuosic instrument that it is. This final stage is represented by the intriguing, sophisticated Second Sonata of Jean-Pierre Waelbroeck. Despite the well-rounded, interesting program, the execution put forth by long-time collaborators Eyckmans and Croene is decidedly lackluster and disappointing. For his own part, Croene's playing is nicely balanced, technically clean (particularly in the always-challenging Hindemith score), and stylistically appropriate as the music moves through the various time periods. Eyckmans' playing is less remarkable. Her tone is rather weak, and her sound is often completely lost as she descends onto her instrument's G and C strings. Higher up on the A string, Eyckmans sounds quite forced as she attempts to draw out more and more volume from an instrument that has clearly given its all. Adding to this is intonation that is not reliable, and an approach to the instrument that does not seem to vary from composer to composer.

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