Kolja Blacher / Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Eichberg / Beethoven

(CD - Phil.Harmonie #PHIL 6022)

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Works conceived for violin and piano are often difficult to orchestrate convincingly for larger forces, though Richard Tognetti's arrangement for violin and string orchestra of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata actually works quite spectacularly. While the virtuosic violin part is wisely kept in its original state, the translation of the piano accompaniment is accomplished by employing various divisions of the string body to match the keyboard's changing textures, and by using tremolos, multi-stops, and pizzicati in emulation, if not imitation, of the piano's characteristic sounds. Of course, this doesn't really sound Beethovenian, as his choices surely would have been different, but it succeeds brilliantly on its own terms, and Kolja Blacher and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra play with enough enthusiasm and vigor to make it compelling listening. The companion work, Søren Nils Eichberg's Endorphin, concerto grosso for string quartet and chamber orchestra, is a short but brusque piece, full of dissonant clusters, references to tonal music, and clashing elements that play off the conventions of the Baroque form. It also dramatically displays the strengths of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which commissioned it and premiered it with Blacher in the dual capacity of conductor and first violinist in the quartet. This 2012 release on the Phil.harmonie label offers clean details and vibrant sound, though the playing time of 47:09 might be considered a little skimpy for a full-priced CD.

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