The New Canon

Wolfgang David / David Gompper

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The New Canon Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Violinist Wolfgang David's 2009 Gallo album is entitled The New Canon: Modernity and Music for Violin and Piano. David has proven himself to be a champion of modern music for his instrument, but just how "new" his proposed canon of works is relies on the perspective of the listener. After all, the Debussy sonata and Korngold's Much Ado About Nothing have been around for nearly a century, with Bartók's First Rhapsody and Messiaen's Thème et variations following closely behind. Granted, some of the works may be unfamiliar to listeners, but they do not necessarily represent the utmost in modernity. Joined by pianist David Gompper, the performances heard here are technically quite solid and confident. Both David and Gompper possess a clear academic understanding of the score and seem to share a unified musical vision when playing together. Apart from the technical superiority and academic integrity, however, David's performance comes across as somewhat flat and dispassionate. There's a noticeable lack of sensuality in the Debussy sonata, too little fervor in the Bartók, and minimal sense of fluidity in the Messiaen. The precision in David's playing still earns him high marks considering the level of difficulty in much of his program, but listeners will likely want more on the musical side of the equation if they are to include these works in the more standard canon.

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