Stravinsky: Diversions

01/05/2011
Graham Strahle
The Australian (Australia)

"STRAVINSKY'S works for violin stylistically all belong to his neo-classical period, and sprang from the collaboration he formed with the Polish-born violinist Samuel Dushkin. First came the Violin Concerto, which Dushkin premiered in 1931, and in quick succession came his Duo concertante for violin and piano, plus assorted arrangements of other works for the same combination. Many of these works they took on European concert tours in the years 1932-34. Violinist Ray Chen and pianist Timothy Young recreate the typical kind of program they played on these tours, but their manner of performance differs markedly from the recordings Stravinsky and Dushkin made. Gone is their cool, detached and rhythmically incisive style and in its place is a lyrical warmth that quite transforms these pieces. They play the Gavotta theme in the fourth movement of the Suite after Pergolesi with utterly beguiling simplicity and beauty. Chen draws a special tender sweetness from his instrument in this Suite and four other works on this disc: the Duo concertante and arrangements of the Divertimento from his ballet The Fairy's Kiss, the Chanson russe from his opera Mavra, and the Danse russe from Petrushka. In particular, the Duo concertante comes up sounding charmingly tuneful and remarkably French, at times recalling Cesar Franck and Ravel. These are extraordinarily compelling and musically very satisfying reinterpretations of Stravinsky's music. ..."