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20-10-2015, 05:12

Benjamin Schmid, Lisa Smirnova - Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Weill (2015)

Category: Music

Benjamin Schmid, Lisa Smirnova - Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Weill (2015)

Benjamin Schmid, Lisa Smirnova - Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Weill (2015)
EAC Rip | Flac (Tracks + cue + log) | 225 MB | MP3 320Kbps CBR | 134 MB | 1 CD | Full Scans
Genre: Classical | Label: Ondine | Catalog Number: 1253

Third release on Ondine by the Austrian star violinist Benjamin Schmid contains fresh arrangements of well-known piano pieces by Shostakovich and Prokofiev for violin and piano. Also included is a suite transcribed from Kurt Weill's iconic ‘The Threepenny Opera'. All the three original works by the composers were written during the 1910s and 1920s.
Known for his exceptionally wide repertoire and a great sense of musicality Benjamin Schmid is one of the most versatile violinists of today. Described as "one of the most valuable of today's golden-age-violinists" (The New York Sun), Schmid has performed with orchestras such as Wiener Philharmoniker, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Gulbenkian Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He is also a sought-after jazz violinist. In 2006 the Strad Magazine wrote: "Schmid mesmerises from his very first entry, shaping phrases with a skin-rippling sensitivity to send the spirits soaring. His golden tone, immaculate intonation, faultless technique and total identification with this magical score are truly things of wonder."

Benjamin Schmid is joined in this recording by pianist Lisa Smirnova with whom Schmid has been collaborating in an extensive way for almost 20 years.

Shostakovich wrote to Tsyganov regarding his transcriptions of the piano Preludes Op. 34: "When listening to this transcription I forgot that I wrote these preludes for the piano as they now suit the violin so well."

Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Kurt Weill
Performer: Benjamin Schmid, Lisa Smirnova

Reviews: Benjamin Schmid is certainly one for a challenge. He and pianist Lisa Smirnova have constructed a very unusual programme that is dripping with arrangements. First there are 14 of the 24 Preludes, Op.34 that Dmitri Tsyganov fashioned out of Shostakovich's piano originals. Then, not to be outdone - and because the Tsiganov arrangements are well-known - he has found 1993 arrangements made by another Russian musician, Viktor Derevianko, of Prokofiev's Visions Fugitives, Op.22. Finally, to bring the geographical focus westwards, he plays the seven pieces from The Threepenny Opera in the famous arrangements by Stefan Frenkel.

So the first question, given the foregoing: 41 tracks in a 54-minute album, and no works originally written for the violin. Does all of this really work? It depends on the conviction of the performers, and beyond that the validity of the arrangements. Two of them have stood the test of time and it's only the Prokofiev that will be new to many. So it's as well to consider the performances.

Most fiddlers pick and choose half a dozen of the Tsyganov Prelude arrangements. Some will add them singly to a recital or recording. Others, more specialised, will promote a larger number. Hardly anyone records more than half of the 19 arrangements Tsyganov made. Schmid's decision to record as many as 14 is laudable in the context, but there was room for them all. Maybe he remains less than convinced by the ones he hasn't taped, or maybe he or Ondine think that this would give the programme a thoroughly archival look to it. I have a sneaking sense of disappointment, though, that he didn't go the whole hog and record them all, adding the five arrangements Lera Auerbach made in 2000 of the remaining Preludes. As for the selected Preludes, Schmid is not afraid to get some abrasive grit into his tone in No.6 or to bring a wry quality of characterisation to No.13. He's even quicker than Camilla Wicks and Sixten Ehrling in their venerable recording of No.10, one of the most famous of the set. Schmid and Smirnova have the good sense to jumble up the set, starting with No.24 and ending with the driving No.20 but playing the majority in a broad narrative, chronological direction. He prefers to order those he plays 24, 2, 6, 10, 12 and so on.

I'd not come across the Prokofiev-Derevianko on disc before. The arranger is a distinguished musician and a pupil of Heinrich Neuhaus. He also worked with Shostakovich after 1970 before emigrating to Israel in 1976. The Visions are played complete, in the accepted order - though we know that they were written at different times. Schmid and Smirnova prove admirable exponents of this new-clothed work, though I wonder how the pianist feels about the violinist taking the glory. It's fascinating to hear the famous Allegretto (No.3) re-clothed in this way, as well as to hear the wandering expressivity of No.7, and the driving No.15. You can also hear a huge exhalation of breath from Schmid in No.17.

It's always engaging to come across the Weill-Frenkel septet of pieces. They suit Schmid's tonal variety and shaping of material. I think one can hear from his playing of the Cannon Song that he has a Jazz background, as his rhythm is splendidly flexible. His smeary vibrato in the Tango Ballad works well.

This well played and well recorded recital comes with sensible and helpful booklet notes. It's something of a niche release but worth exploring if you're a questing fiddle-lover.

Tracklisting:

Dmitri Shostakovich
01. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 24 in D Minor, Allegretto [01:21]
02. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 2 in A Minor, Allegretto [01:02]
03. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 6 in B Minor, Allegretto [01:21]
04. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor, Moderato non troppo [01:46]
05. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor, Allegretto non troppo [01:52]
06. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 13 in F-Sharp Major, Moderato [01:05]
07. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 15 in D-Flat Major,Allegretto [00:54]
08. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 16 in B-Flat Minor, Andantino [01:06]
09. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 17 in A-Flat Major, Largo [01:42]
10. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 18 in F Minor, Allegretto [00:52]
11. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 19 in E-Flat Major, Andantino [01:50]
12. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 21 in B-Flat Major, Allegretto poco moderato [00:52]
13. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 22 in G Minor, Adagio [02:04]
14. 24 Preludes, Op. 34 (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano): No. 20 in C Minor, Allegretto [00:50]

Sergei Prokofiev
15. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): I. Lentamente [00:59]
16. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): II. Andante [01:16]
17. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): III. Allegretto [01:03]
18. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): IV. Animato - Piu sostenuto [01:07]
19. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): V. Molto giocoso [00:26]
20. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): VI. Con eleganza [00:46]
21. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): VII. Pittoresco [01:54]
22. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (Arr. V. Derewianko For Violin And Piano): VIII. Commodo [01:25]
23. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): IX. Allegretto tranquillo [01:04]
24. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): X. Ridicolosamente [00:58]
25. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XI. Con vivacita [01:15]
26. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XII. Assai moderato [01:10]
27. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (Arr. V. Derewianko For Violin And Piano): XIII. Allegretto [00:51]
28. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XIV. Feroce [01:08]
29. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XV. Inquieto [00:51]
30. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XVI. Dolente [01:53]
31. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (Arr. V. Derewianko For Violin And Piano): XVII. Poetico [01:20]
32. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (Arr. V. Derewianko For Violin And Piano): XVIII. Con Una Dolce Lentezza [01:15]
33. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XIX. Presto agitatissimo e molto accentuato [00:47]
34. Visions fugitives, Op. 22 (arr. V. Derewianko for violin and piano): XX. Lento irrealmente [01:52]

Kurt Weill
35. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 1. Moritat vom Mackie Messer (The Ballad of Mack the Knife) [02:38]
36. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 2. Ruf aus der Gruft (Call from the Grave) [00:59]
37. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 3. Ballade vom angenehmen Leben (The Ballad of Pleasant Living) [02:11]
38. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 4. Pollys Lied (Polly's Song) [01:37]
39. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 5. Zuhalterballade (The Procurer's Ballad) [01:32]
40. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 6. Seerauberjenny (Pirate Jenny) [01:21]
41. 7 Stucke nach der Dreigroschenoper (arr. S. Frenkel): No. 7. Kanonensong (Cannon Song) [01:46]
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