Frank Almond / William Wolfram

A Violin's Life, Vol. 2: Music for the 'Lipinski' Stradivari - Beethoven, Maier-Röntgen, Tubin

(CD - Avie #AVR 2363)

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The first of Frank Almond's A Violin's Life albums, featuring the novel programming concept of performing works associated with his 1715 "Lipinski" Stradivarius violin, was well received, but hardly made him a household name. Between that release and this one, Almond was mugged with a Taser in a Milwaukee parking lot, and his priceless violin was stolen. It was recovered by Milwaukee police ten days later, and Almond had the presence of mind to propose Taser-proof clothing for musicians that would "mainly be for conductors." In any event, it is to be hoped that Almond's ordeal will draw wider attention to the second A Violin's Life, which presents two unusual pieces and one standard that have been performed on his Lipinski Strad. The Violin Sonata in B minor of Sweden's Amanda Maier-Röntgen, a female composer who will be unfamiliar to all but specialists in the field, is an entirely competent essay in the Schumann style. Her father-in-law and teacher, Engelbert Röntgen, owned the Lipinski, and she certainly would have had its sound in her head. Even closer to the instrument was the Estonian exile composer Eduard Tubin (1905-1982), who composed his Sonata for solo violin for a player, Evi Livak, who used the Lipinski. This is a very valuable addition to the solo violin repertory, exploiting the instrument's uncanny resonance and volume in its upper register. The sole repertory work, the Violin Sonata No. 9 in A minor, Op. 47 ("Kreutzer"), was played by the instrument's namesake, Karol Lipinski, in an 1840 concert. It's a fine, broad reading that draws on the violin's power across its range; pianist William Wolfram has the confidence to stay out of its way. A fine violin recording that will appeal to those interested in music by women as well as to violin enthusiasts.

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