Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tai Murray Gives A Compelling Performance on Harmonia Mundi of 'Eugène Ysaÿe, Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27'

[Eugène Ysaÿe, Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27; Tai Murray, Violin, Harmonia Mundi HMU 907569 (2012) (68:48)]

The liner notes for Eugène Ysaÿe, Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27 say of Tai Murray: 
“She recently made her recital debut at London's Wigmore Hall as well as appearing at the BBC Proms and with the Cincinnati and Dallas symphony orchestras, the Shanghai Symphony, London's BBC Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony, the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.

“Ms. Murray has performed as a recitalist to critical acclaim in many major cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia and London. A dedicated chamber musician, she is the newly appointed co-artistic director of chamber music at the Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival in northeast Pennsylvania and she is also a member of the conductor-less East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO).” “Winner of an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2004 and a former BBC New Generation Artist (2008-2010), Ms. Murray is a native of Chicago. She studied with Yuval Yaron, Franco Gulli, and Joel Smirnoff, and is a graduate of both Indiana University and the Juilliard School. She performs on a Giovanni Tononi instrument, c. 1690.”

AllMusic.com says of Eugène Ysaÿe's Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27: 
They're unlike anything else in the virtuoso literature.” Further, “...they are wildly experimental in terms of technique...”

Gavin Plumley writes in the Harmonia Mundi liner notes:
“Eugène Ysaÿe refused to stay still. Born in Liège, he left home to study the violin with Henryk Wienawski in Brussels before moving on to the equally esteemed Henry Vieuxtemps in Paris. Flitting between the two cities before settling briefly in Berlin, Ysaÿe wowed audiences wherever he went. During these nomadic early years, he was exposed to some of the most exciting artistic experiments of the time. Europe was teeming with change and challenge.”

“Many seminal works of the period were performed by him and dedicated to him, including Franck's Violin Sonata (1886), Chausson's Concert (1889-91) and Poème (1896), d'Indy's String Quartet No. 1 (1890), Debussy's String Quartet (1893) and Lekeu's Violin Sonata (1892). And while composers revered Ysaÿe's musicality, they were equally astounded by his virtuosity.”

But by the time that Ysaÿe composed his six Op. 27 Sonatas for Solo Violin in 1924, experiment had turned to self-knowing and he had developed a diverse but rigorous musical language. Furthermore, Ysaÿe's unparalleled knowledge of the violin opened up the more inaccessible recesses of technique, style and sound. Since their publication these sonatas have offered a benchmark to subsequent generations of violinists.”

Each of the six Sonatas for Solo Violin is dedicated to a prominent individual in the world of music. The first is dedicated to Joseph Szigeti, the Hungarian violinist, and makes a strikingly vigorous sound for a single violin. The same is true of Sonata No. 2, dedicated to Jacques Thibaud; Sonata No. 3, (Georges Enesco), Sonata No. 4 (Fritz Kreisler), Sonata No. 5 (Mathieu Crickboom) and Sonata No. 6 (Manuel Quiroga).

Tai Murray has chosen very challenging repertoire for her debut recording on Harmonia Mundi, but she is clearly up to the task. Listeners who know Eugène Ysaÿe only as one of the greatest violinists of all time will now be able to appreciate him as a compelling composer as well, after hearing Tai Murray's performance. When a 29-year-old violinist successfully begins a solo recording career with a compelling performance of such difficult repertoire as Ysaÿe's Sonatas for Solo Violin, one can only imagine what listeners can anticipate from this performer in the future.
Disclosure: A review copy of this CD was provided by the record label.

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