Giora Schmidt


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Vocalise Review

by Mike D. Brownell

The liner notes for violinist Giora Schmidt's CD Vocalise asserts that the album gets its name from the song-like movements found in each of the pieces on the program. This concept seems like an enjoyable way to tie together varying pieces of music on a single program and works brilliantly for Schmidt with one exception -- the Vivaldi A major Sonata. Schmidt's playing throughout the Vivaldi is simply too forced, aggressive, and romanticized. If the third-movement Adagio is supposed to be the "song," Schmidt plays it as if he's shouting instead of singing. The problems with the album end there as the remainder of the works are nineteenth and twentieth century compositions that benefit from the fullness and robustness of Schmidt's playing. De Falla's Suite Populaire Espagnole is quite fiery and appropriately stylized and American composer Philip Lasser's Vocalise is indeed quite song-like, and listeners are treated to a warm, velvety violin sound filled with nuances of color and dynamics. Franck's A major Sonata -- a cornerstone of the violin repertoire -- is a tour de force as much for the piano as the violin. Pianist Rohan de Silva's somewhat dull sound, however, is pushed to the background a little more than appropriate for a true chamber music performance. Still, neither technical nor musical aspects of Schmidt's performance can be faulted. The album concludes with Wieniawski's Polonaise Brillante, which certainly does not fit the vocalise bill, but is so brilliantly performed that listeners are unlikely to mind the change in theme.

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